B-1B Lancer upgrade will triple payload


Technicians from the US Air Force have begun testing a multiple ejector rack on the B-1B Lancer that could increase the B-1B’s JDAM payload by 320%.

Airmen from the US Air Force’s 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron began their first phase of demonstrations of a multiple ejector rack on a B-1B Lancer on March 22.

If fielded, 16-carry modified rotary launchers will increase the number of 500-pound joint direct attack munitions and laser-guided JDAMs carried by the B-1B from 15 to 48, a 320 percent increase in capability.
“Currently a B-1 can deliver twice the payload of a B-52, meaning, theoretically, with the MER [multiple ejector rack] upgrade, one B-1 will be able to deliver the same amount of payload as four B-52s,” said Colonel Gerald Goodfellow, the 7th Operations Group commander.

Also, the MER has a mixed-load capability, meaning each bomb bay can hold an assortment of joint air-to-surface stand-off missiles, and both 2,000-pound and 500-pound JDAMs, giving the aircrew much greater flexibility during combat missions.
“The war we are in requires target specific weaponry that is capable of destroying a single room of a building,” said Tech Sgt. David Koscienski, the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES) weapons suitability NCO in charge. “With the addition of the MER, B-1 operators have the ability to conduct numerous individual attacks and massive air-strikes as needed, without needing to stop to reload.”

Aircrews from the 337th TES and 419th Flight Test Squadron from Edwards Air Force Base, California, flew a Dyess Air Force Base B-1B equipped with a MER and successfully released two inert 500-pound JDAMs over China Lake Missile Range, California, on March 22. An additional mission was also successfully flown on March 24 to test drop the weapons again.
“The B-1 is absolutely a choice war-fighting platform considering it can carry multiple weapons, each with specific capabilities, and deploy those weapons at a moment’s notice,” Sergeant Koscienski said. “The adaptation of the MER, along with the sniper pod and laser-guided JDAMS, will only increase that same lethal capability to an even greater level.”

The purpose of the 16-carry demonstration program is to validate the release and safe separation of 500-pound class weapons from a modified B-1B rotary launcher.
“This upgrade will not only save the Air Force money, but will also put less of our Airmen at risk; and that is our main priority,” Colonel Goodfellow said.

B-1Bs have been active over Libya as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn. Two B-1Bs assigned to the 28th Bomb Wing left Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, early on March 27 to take part in the United Nations-backed no-fly zone over Libya. They returned three days later after hitting almost 100 targets in North Africa.

According to the US Air Force, the strikes against Libya marked the first time Lancers had taken off from the continental United States to strike targets overseas.