Higher, Faster, Further: 1970-1996

Rockwell International ... Bombers and Broncos

During the 1970s, Rockwell's North American division worked on the B-1 bomber and the first of four B-1 Lancer prototypes flew on Dec. 23, 1974. This was a long-range strategic bomber, capable of flying intercontinental missions without refueling, then penetrating sophisticated enemy defenses. By the end of 1977, three B-1As had made 118 flights with more than 21 hours at supersonic speeds.

For the next version, the B-1B Lancer, which first flew Oct. 18, 1984, The Boeing Company developed and produced its Offensive Avionics System (OAS) and its Defensive Management System. The crew station was equipped with a McDonnell Douglas ACES II ejection seat.

At the same time, Rockwell also developed and built two test HiMAT aircraft for NASA. The HiMAT program was designed to enhance transonic maneuverability of future U.S. fighter aircraft. The subscale aircraft bridged the gap between wind tunnel testing, simulators, ground tests and full-scale manned flight testing.

In addition, Rockwell began modifying the OV-10 Bronco for the U.S. Marines and Navy as a night observation gunship.

On Dec, 11, 1980, Rockwell delivered its 600th Sabreliner to Standard Oil of California, and on July 1, 1983, the company sold its Sabreliner division to Wolsey and Co., a New York investment company, which continued to market the aircraft.

The first international experimental aircraft development program administered by a U.S. government agency was for the X-31 Enhanced Fighter Maneuverability demonstrator. The program was a collaborative effort between the North American division and Deutsche Aerospace for design and construction of the X-31, which first flew on Oct. 11, 1990.

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