AFMC News Service 5-01-98

GPS, JDAM communication upgrade kits ready for B-1B

by 1st Lt. Matt Keiper
B-1B System Program Office
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio

In early April, two of the first seven sets of the B-1B global positioning system Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM, and communication upgrade modification kits arrived at Tinker AFB, Okla., for installation into the bomber.

Managed by the Aeronautical Systems Center B-1B System Program Office at Wright-Patterson, the B-1B Lancer conventional mission upgrade programming is configuring the B-1B to carry out its role as the primary Air Force long-range heavy bomber for conventional warfare.

The depot at Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center will install the modification kits in this initial block of bombers by January 1999. This will give Air Combat Command seven JDAM-capable B-1B bombers 18 months ahead of schedule.

These modifications will significantly improve both the lethality and the survivability of the B-1B, allowing the war fighters to strike multiple, hardened targets on a single pass with highly accurate JDAM weapons. The B-1B is capable of carrying up to 24 of these munitions at once — eight in each of its three weapon bays. The JDAM used on the B-1B is a 2,000-pound bomb variant, which is guided to its target using GPS information.

The ongoing B-1B JDAM flight test continues to produce better than expected accuracy scores.

"B-1 JDAM development test scores are the best to date for horizontal targets (like low bunkers and aircraft on the ground), and are tied for first place for vertical targets (like tall buildings)," said Lou Cerrato, chief of the weapons development integrated product team, JDAM Joint Program Office in the B-1B SPO.

While the GPS, JDAM and communication upgrade modification kits are being installed, the depot also will install the ALE-50 towed decoy system, which will provide greater survivability against defensive threats during combat missions.

Completion of fleet-wide, B-1B JDAM capability is scheduled for early 2001 and the towed decoy installation is slated to be completed in 2003.

"This is an exciting time for the B-1B community," said Lt. Col. Ernie Speck, program manager for the B-1B GPS, JDAM and communication upgrade program at the B1-B SPO. "We are seeing excellent flight test results and will deliver this much needed capability to the war fighters later this year."

The modified bombers will be delivered to Ellsworth AFB, S.D., later this year. Upon arrival, the modified bombers also will be fitted with modified, multi-purpose rotary launchers, giving the B-1B the ability to employ the new JDAM weapon.