The first B-1B bomber to be fitted with the fully integrated datalink upgrade flew its first functional check sortie on July 30 at Edwards, AFB, Calif. “The aircraft did very well,” said Maj. Jason Wierzbanowski, B-1 test pilot with Edwards’ 419th Flight Test Squadron. This B-1 had been on the ground for more than two years undergoing the Boeing-designed FIDL modification, which replaces the entire aft crew station with a modern cockpit that has new avionics and displays, as well as more flexible cursor controllers and keyboards. It also adds new open-architecture processors, mass-storage capability, and an Ethernet network to the bomber, in addition to the new communications links. Wierzbanowski said the upgrade will give B-1 aircrews “real time data of where the warfighter needs the bombs on the ground.” The functional check flight assured that the new systems worked properly and did not hamper aircraft safety before operational testing begins at some later point. (Edwards report by SSgt. Angelique Smythe)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.