Dyess receives second upgraded B1
By Airman 1st Class Alexander Guerrero, 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 13, 2014
DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The second operational B-1B Lancer with the integrated Battle Station upgrade has arrived here at Dyess.
The B-1 landed here May 7, 2014, and is the second in a series of upgraded aircraft. The B-1B, which was re-designed in the 1980s from the original 1970's B-1A, is now under a fleet-wide upgrade with an Integrated Battle Station and the addition of Sustainment Block 16 among other software and hardware systems.
"We have new communication and data transfer capabilities with the upgrades. The software, navigation, flight controls have been changed and we've replaced the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System with Link-16," said Master Sgt. Eric Dassinger, 7th Maintenance Group wing avionics manager. "Link-16 is a line-of-sight data transfer system, meaning if another aircraft or ground unit can see a threat they can send us target information on it. We can even use an advanced warning and control aircraft or a ground-based communication station to broaden our tactical view."
The entire fleet of B-1s will undergo this in-depth overhaul to complete the upgrade over the next five years. They are almost completely gutted in order to get access to all the critical components.
"Under this program all our B-1s will receive the Integrated Battle Station upgrade, which is performed at depot at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., before the SB16 can be added," Dassinger said. "We're hoping to have the entire B-1 fleet upgraded by 2019 and have the first 15 upgraded B-1s at Dyess by 2016."
These upgrades will make the Bone as combat efficient as ever. Dassinger explained that with the new systems installed, the chance of human error is decreased and gives the aircrew the potential for higher target accuracy.
"One of the most innovative upgrades is the ability to share maps and data between the screens of each of the aircrew's seats, which streamlines information between them," Dassinger said. "It also allows command post to send target coordinates and weapon information that the defensive and offensive weapons operators can quickly and easily load into the new system."
With all the newly upgraded systems, components and software, the SB16 and B-1s to come will need to have their aircrew and maintainers trained up and ready to operate the new systems. Luckily, there are programs already in place to help with that.
"All the B-1 aircrews will receive training on the SB16-upgraded B-1s at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. They'll participate in academic training in a classroom setting and will also be given familiarization training modules here at Dyess," Dassinger said. "The first two fleet-ready upgraded B-1s will be going to the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron. With the B1s there, they will continue to update the 11 new flight manuals and the more than 400 technical publication updates that go along with SB16."
The knowledge gained and lessons learned from the first upgraded B-1 Dyess received is being applied to the incoming SB16-upgraded B-1s and to those after it in order to facilitate a smooth transition back into the active B-1 fleet.
"We've learned some good lessons. One of those lessons is keeping an open and constant flow of communication between us and subject matter experts so that they can help us with troubleshooting any problems that may arise," Dassinger said. "Another big one is that we need to focus more on the updated maintenance training. This is pretty much a new jet, so not rushing anything is the key for things to go smoothly."
According to Dassinger, the SB16 B-1s are a perfect example of the 7th Bomb Wing commander's desire to "embracing innovation" that will increase effectiveness in training and the ability to carry out future missions.
"We are really looking forward to having the next innovation in airpower technology," Dassinger said.