USAF to upgrade B-1B Lancer's rotary launcher


By Gabriele Barison
Dec 26 2017
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Since the ejector was originally designed to carry nuclear weapons with 30-inch lug spacing, the B-1B is limited to carrying 15 GBU-38s but can take in 24 GBU-31s

The BRU-56 ejector attached to the B-1B Lancer’s rotary launcher is getting an upgrade so that the supersonic bomber can carry more smart bombs, Oriana Pawlyk reports for

“We have the largest payload, we have the speed to get to where we need to get to, we have the loiter time to hang out once we’re there,” said Lt. Col. Dominic “Beaver” Ross, director of operations for the 337th Test and Evaluations Squadron here at Dyess Air Force Base (AFB), Texas.

“We are getting what’s called a BRU-56, an ejector rack [modification] […] it gives us capability,” he explained.

The B-1B has three rotary launchers in each of its three bomb bays.

“Where that ejector rack mounts on that eight-carry launcher, it just bolts on there,” Ross said. “Our conventional rotary launcher … is what we carry our [GBU-31] 2,000-pound weapons with. It has eight stations on it.”

But since the ejector was originally designed to carry nuclear weapons with 30-inch lug spacing, the B-1B is limited to carrying 15 GBU-38s but can take in 24 GBU-31s.

“A modification and upgrade to the BRU-56 ejector rack on the Multi-Purpose Rotary Launcher (MPRL), to include 14-inch lug spacing capability, would contribute to increased safety, quicker sortie generation rates, lower maintenance time, increased reliability, and lower maintenance personnel requirements,” the program’s solicitation posted on FedBizOps says.

B-1B print
This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. B-1B Lancer 28th FW, 34th BS Thunderbirds, EL/86-129 / 2005

Noteworthy the variation in ejector spacing is needed because GBU-38 500-pound weapons have tail kits “that are a little bit too long” for some of the carry-racks, Ross explained.

For this reason the U.S. Air Force (USAF) wants the new ejector to come with 14-inch lug spacing capability so that eight GBU-38s can be attached to each rotary launcher and the bomber can carry the same number as the 2000-pounders.

However the upgrade may take awhile: the USAF has only just started the bidding process, according to the FedBizOps post, which stipulates roughly three years time to design, develop and manufacture the upgrade.

Currently, the B-1 can carry 75,000 pounds – 5,000 pounds more than the B-52 Stratofortress (which has just been upgraded with the new conventional rotary launcher that increases its smart weapon carrying capabilities by 67 percent) – of both precision-guided and conventional bombs.

USAF to upgrade B-1B Lancer's rotary launcher

According to Those bombs include Mk-82 or Mk-84 general-purpose bombs; Mk-62 or Mk-65 Quick Strike naval mines bombs; clustet munitions such as the CBU-87, -89, -97 or Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispensers such as the CBU-103, -104, -105; GBU-31 or GBU-38 JDAMs; AGM-158A Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles; and GBU-54 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force and Valder137 via Wikipedia

Artwork courtesy of

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Gabriele Barison

Gabriele Barison

Gabriele Barison is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Co-Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. He has flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.
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