The Air Force showed off how it could equip the B-1B Lancer with more bombs - including hypersonic weapons
US Air Force/Staff Sgt. David Owsianka
- The US Air Force demonstrated how the B-1B Lancer bomber's capacity can be expanded.
- The new capabilities means the Lancer can not only carry more weapons but heavier weapons, like hypersonics, as well.
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The 412th Test Wing, along with Air Force Global Strike Command and industry partners, held an expanded carriage demonstration with the B-1B Lancer bomber at Edwards Air Force Base, California, August 28. The demonstration showcased the feasibility of increasing the B-1B weapons capacity to integrate future advanced weapons.
The two potential programs - external carriage and long bay options - would allow the B-1B to carry weapons externally, significantly increasing its magazine capacity for munitions, as well as adding larger, heavier munitions, such as hypersonic weapons.
"The purpose of the demonstration was to show that we're still able to move the bulkhead from the forward intermediate bay to the forward location; increasing the intermediate bay capacity from 180 inches to 269 inches," said Lt. Col. Dominic Ross, B-1B program element monitor, AFGSC. "Additionally, we demonstrated that we can still carry weapons externally on six of the eight hard points, which increases our overall carriage capacity."
Ross said the expanded capabilities will be conventional only, keeping the aircraft compliant with New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START.
Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, chief of staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration, Headquarters Air Force, along with Gen. Tim Ray, AFGSC commander, and other government and industry partners, were briefed on the potential expanded capabilities and how they would be able to adapt to future requirements.
"It increases the magazine capacity of the B-1B. Currently we can carry 24 weapons internally. Now it can be increased to potentially 40 based on what type of pylon we would create," Ross said. "This gets the B-1 into the larger weapons, the 5,000 pounders. It gets it into the hypersonics game as well."