Latest avionics software update for the B-1B Lancer fleet tested during 30 hour two-ship CONUS to CONUS Bomber Task Force sortie

Latest avionics software update for the B-1B Lancer fleet tested during 30 hour two-ship CONUS to CONUS Bomber Task Force sortie

By Dario Leone
Feb 14 2022
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As part of the Sensors Forward initiative which uses updated software and processes to leverage resident B-1 Electronic Warfare capability, Sustainment Block-18 is the next major avionics software update for the B-1B Lancer fleet.

The 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron completed a test of the Sustainment Block-18 avionics software and achieved long-range communications utilizing Joint Range Extension Applications Protocol–A during a US Strategic Command Bomber Task Force 30 hour two-ship CONUS to CONUS mission in the Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility, Jan. 11, 2022.

As explained by 1st Lt Lindsey Heflin, 53rd Wing, in the article 53rd Wing tests avionics software update during Bomber Task Force sortie, the mission was flown in conjunction with the 7th Bomb Wing, and marks the first time a BTF sortie was supported by Operational Test aircraft and aircrew.

As part of the Sensors Forward initiative which uses updated software and processes to leverage resident B-1 Electronic Warfare capability, Sustainment Block-18 is the next major avionics software update for the B-1B Lancer fleet.

Two of the primary features of the avionics software update include simplified sensor control and targeting, as well as re-hosting many of the defense features on newer displays that improve situational awareness. During the mission, the profile demonstrated a number of efficiencies compared to the previous software.

Latest avionics software update for the B-1B Lancer fleet tested during 30 hour two-ship CONUS to CONUS Bomber Task Force sortie
Two B-1 Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing fly behind a KC-135R Stratotanker after receiving fuel over the Pacific Ocean during a Bomber Task Force deployment, Jan. 11, 2022. A BTF deployment of U.S. Air Force B-1 Lancers, Airmen and support equipment from the 7th Bomb Wing, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, coordinated with the 909th Air Refueling Squadron to support Pacific Air Forces’ training efforts with allies, partners, and joint forces and strategic deterrence missions to reinforce the rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific region.

“Flying for a duration of this length is invaluable when it comes to stressing the software system,” said Maj. Matthew Sutton, 337th TES test director. “Prior to the sortie we had executed tests at continental US ranges, but ideally we want to test an operational environment so we can see just how far we can push the system.”

During the bilateral BTF mission the 337th TES integrated with the Dyess Air Force Base Live Mission Operation Center who handles the line of sight and beyond line of sight communications in order to capture the usability of JREAP-A, a beyond line of sight datalink across satellites, on missions crossing certain AOR’s and at various latitudes.

By demonstrating connectivity to the 608th and 613th Air Operations Centers throughout various points on the mission, the 337th TES and 7th Bomb Wing were able to capture the results for integration into aircrew academics and determine usability for the crew force and best practices for future long-duration mission command and control.

“There’s no better way to demonstrate that our tests are meeting the needs of the warfighter than by integrating the bomber OT mission directly with current operational taskings,” said Col. Jaime Hernandez, 753rd Test and Evaluation Group commander.

Latest avionics software update for the B-1B Lancer fleet tested during 30 hour two-ship CONUS to CONUS Bomber Task Force sortie
A B-1B Lancer taxis on the flightline after completing a Continental United States to Continental United States joint Large Force Exercise alongside the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, Jan. 11, 2022. They executed a 30 hour two-ship CONUS to CONUS mission.

As part of the 53d Test and Evaluation Grou of the 53d Wing, the 337th conducts testing of various upgrades to the B-1, as well as trains aircrews to operate and maintain the upgraded aircraft. The squadron has been involved in increasing the B-1’s weapons payload, attempting to increase the bomber’s ability to deliver weapons into heavily defended areas.

BTF sorties support national security objectives through the speed, flexibility, and readiness of US strategic bombers. The objectives accomplished during the 337th TES operational mission align with Gen. Anthony Cotton’s strategic vision for Air Force Global Strike Command: balance sustaining today’s force while modernizing for tomorrow.

By continuing to test in high-end operational environments and providing key data points that achieves decision advantage, the 53rd Wing will continue to do its part in ensuring the lethality of all bombers and equipping the warfighter for tomorrow’s fight.

Photo credit: Airman 1st Class Ryan Hayman and Airman 1st Class Moses Taylor / U.S. Air Force

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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