The B-1B is a multi-role, long-range bomber, capable of flying intercontinental missions without refueling, then penetrating present and predicted sophisticated enemy defenses. It can perform a variety of missions, including that of a conventional weapons carrier for theater operations. Through 1991, the B-1 was dedicated to the nuclear deterrence role as part of the single integrated operational plan (SIOP)
The B-1B's electronic jamming equipment, infrared countermeasures, radar location and warning systems complement its low-radar cross-section and form an integrated defense system for the aircraft.
The swing-wing design and turbofan engines not only provide greater range and high speed at low levels but they also enhance the bomber's survivability. Wing sweep at the full-forward position allows a short takeoff roll and a fast base-escape profile for airfields under attack. Once airborne, the wings are positioned for maximum cruise distance or high-speed penetration. The B-1B holds several world records for speed, payload and distance. The National Aeronautic Association recognized the B-1B for completing one of the 10 most memorable record flights for 1994.
The B-1B uses radar and inertial navigation equipment enabling aircrews to globally navigate, update mission profiles and target coordinates in-flight, and precision bomb without the need for ground based navigation aids. Included in the B-1B offensive avionics are modular electronics that allow maintenance personnel to precisely identify technical difficulties and replace avionics components in a fast, efficient manner on the ground.
The aircraft's AN/ALQ 161A defensive avionics is a comprehensive electronic counter-measures package that detects and counters enemy radar threats. It also has the capability to detect and counter missiles attacking from the rear. It defends the aircraft by applying the appropriate counter-measures, such as electronic jamming or dispensing expendable chaff and flares. Similar to the offensive avionics, the defensive suite has a re-programmable design that allows in-flight changes to be made to counter new or changing threats.
The B-1B represents a major upgrade in U.S. long-range capabilities over the B-52 -- the previous mainstay of the bomber fleet. Significant advantages include:
• Low radar cross-section to make detection considerably more difficult.
• Ability to fly lower and faster while carrying a larger payload.
• Advanced electronic countermeasures to enhance survivability.
Numerous sustainment and upgrade modifications are ongoing or under study for the B-1B aircraft. A large portion of these modifications which are designed to increase the combat capability are known as the Conventional Mission Upgrade Program. In FY93, The Air Force initiated CMUP in FY1993 to improve the B-1’s conventional warfighting capabilities. The $2.7 billion CMUP program is intended to convert the B-1B from a primarily nuclear weapons carrier to a conventional weapons carrier. Capability will be delivered in blocks attained by hardware modifications with corresponding software updates:
• Initial conventional capability was optimized for delivery of Mk-82 non-precision 500lb gravity bombs
• Current capability (Block C) also provides delivery of up to 30 Cluster Bomb Units (CBUs) per sortie for enhanced conventional capability against advancing armor. Initial capability achieved in September 1996 with FOC in August 1997. The upgrade consists of modification for B-1B bomb module from the original configuration of 28 500-pound bombs per unit to 10 1,000-pound cluster bombs per bomb rack. The modifications apply to a total to 50 refitted bomb racks -- enough to equip half the B-1B fleet.
• Block D integrates the ALE-50 repeater decoy system, the first leg of the electronic countermeasures upgrade, and JDAM for near precision capability and adds anti-jam radios for secure communication in force packages. FY96 and FY97 Congressional plus-ups are being used to accelerate JDAM initial capability by 18 months (1QFY99). Congress has provided extra funding to allow a group of seven aircraft to be outfitted and ready a full 18 months early, with the first three JDAM equipped aircraft to be ready by December 1998, and the last of those seven aircraft are planned to arrive at Ellsworth AFB by Feb 99.
• Block E upgrades the current avionics computer suite and integrates Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser (WCMD), Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) and Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) for standoff capability (FY02)
• Block F improves the aircraft’s electronic countermeasures’ situational awareness and jamming capabilities in FY02.