Warplanes: December 27, 2001


The US Air Force is planning further upgrades to the B-1B bomber fleet. It expects to save about $834 million between 2003 and 2007 by grounding all but 60 of the aircraft and shutting down B-1B operations in three of the five bases. Of the aircraft stored in Arizona, ten will be maintained as flyable spares and the others cannibalized for parts. All but a few B-1Bs have been upgraded to Block-D. This includes the capability to employ the Joint Direct Attack Munition, which effectively converts the nuclear bomber into a premier conventional strike platform. Block D also includes the ALE-50 towed decoy, a GPS navigation system, and a new communications system that allows the crew to get current battlefield information more quickly. The sixty aircraft kept in service will get the Block E upgrade next. This enhances the offensive capability of the bomber with a new attack computer that is 300 times faster and more powerful that the current system. This will allow the planes to carry the Joint Stand Off Weapon, the Joint Air To Surface Standoff Munition, and the Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser. The more powerful computer will allow the aircraft to carry different types of weapons in each of the three bomb bays. The Block-F upgrade will provide protection from those air defenses (like the Russian S300) expected by 2010. This replaces the electronic warfare system with new, more powerful, jammers. This will also upgrade the ALE-50 towed decoy to the ALE-55 fiber-optic towed decoy. The first aircraft to receive Block F will have it by 2005. Later upgrades will include the Link-16 datalink, beyond-line-of-sight satellite communications, and new color monitors in the instrument panels.--Stephen V Cole


Article Archive

Warplanes: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close