Based on the B-1A bomber, the B-1B was developed by Rockwell International in the 1980s, when 100 of the aircraft were produced to support a nuclear mission and were stationed at Strategic Air Command (SAC) bases. In the 1990s, the B-1B was transitioned to a conventional-weapons mission.
Nuclear Mission Capabilities
From 1985 to 1997, the B-1B supported a nuclear mission with the following capabilities:
- High-speed flight of Mach 1.25
- Gross takeoff weight of 477,000 pounds
- The AGM-69A nuclear short-range attack missile (SRAM)
- Westinghouse synthetic aperture radar and offensive-defensive avionics systems
Conventional Mission Capabilities
With the end of the cold war, the B-1Bs were converted to support conventional munitions, and 32 of them were retired beginning in 2001 The 68 remaining B-1Bs retain the speed, payload and targeting capabilities along with the following new conventional enhancements, which were introduced in phases by Boeing:
- Hardware and software enhancements to accommodate a broad range of conventional gravity weapons such as 24 Mk84 bombs, 84 Mk82 bombs or 30 conventional bomb units.
- Global positioning system (GPS) navigation, joint direct attack munitions (JDAM), anti-jam radios, and the ALE-50 towed decoy countermeasure
- New mission computers, wind compensated munitions dispensers (WCMDs), the joint stand-off weapon (JSOW), the joint air-to-surface stand-off missile (JASSM), and the ability to employ multiple types of weapons simultaneously from the three weapons bays.
Future capabilities include new digital radios, cockpit display and sensor improvements improved electronic countermeasures systems, radar warning receivers, external carriage capability and new weapons.
Combat Service and Awards
The B-1B has been distinguished by the following combat activity and awards:
- Combat operations including Desert Fox (Iraq, 1998), Allied Force (Kosovo, 1999), Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan, 2001+), Iraqi Freedom (2003+)
- A very high ratio of precision guided munitions dropped per combat sortie -- from a maximum ratio of 1% of sorties delivering 22% of the guided weapons in Iraqi Freedom (1:22) to a minimum ratio of 5% of sorties delivering 70% of the JDAM weapons in Afghanistan (5:70)
- 100 world records for speed, payload, and distance
For more information, read the B-1B Lancer (PDF) overview.
If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader for reading PDF files, it is available for free from Adobe.