Sharpening the Lancer

The B-1B bomber fleet is in the midst of its most comprehensive cockpit and operator station rework, according to service officials. “The B-1 has never seen this many upgrades in one block,” said Maj. Thomas Bryant, assistant director of operations with the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Elgin AFB, Fla., in a June 5 release. He added, “These upgrades will give us an entirely new aircraft; this is a game changer.” These improvements are occurring under the Sustainment Block 16 modification effort. Cockpit upgrades include two eight- by 10-inch multifunction displays with digital flight instruments and color moving maps. The weapon crew’s workstations are getting five new color displays with similar map and sensor displays, in addition to new keyboard and cursor hardware. A new data link will integrate the B-1 into Link 16 networks and allow external targeting information to go directly into the B-1’s own system, states the release. Developmental testing is slated to begin next March, followed by operational testing from September 2013. (Dyess report by A1C Charles Rivezzo)