Photos: (Clockwise from top left) A B-1 streaks high above Kobani, Syria. getty images A co-pilot’s view of the B-1’s new digital cockpit display. jim haseltine | High-G Productions James Webster, B-1 repair technician, inspects a section of the bomber’s forward fuselage. bob ferguson | boeing AUGUST 2015 27 said. “Well, the Cold War ended. So then what? We worked with the customer to evaluate their needs, and we modified the B-1 to only carry conventional weapons. When the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq started, the B-1 took on a close air support role. We supported that new role through some specific modifications and now, when you look at current missions, the B-1 has become the workhorse of the U.S. Air Force.” B-1 crews with the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron in 2014 dropped more than 2,000 precision-guided bombs in six months—a record—in support of troops engaged in Operation Inherent Resolve, according to the U.S. Air Force. “It’s the adaptability of the jet that really is what has ensured its relevance—not only from the early 1990s to today but from today well into the future,” said Col. Jason Combs, 7th Operations Wing Commander at Dyess. Even with the new Long Range Strike Bomber slated to join the current U.S. Air Force mix of B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers, it may take most of a decade before it will fully deploy alongside its siblings. Boeing’s current work on the B-1 ensures the bomber can soar through at least 2040, according to Greenwell. “Ultimately the customer will decide when or how long any of the bombers will fly, but the B-1 will be a top performer for decades to come,” Greenwell said. Meanwhile, for Boeing’s B-1 team, the sum total of the Bone’s value is greater than each individual capability. Back at Dyess Air Force Base, Contract Field Team member Steven “Paco” Olivas performs quality assurance for all of the repair programs—among them, wing structural inspections and repairs and a navigation enhancement called Inertial Navigation System Replacement. In his years at Boeing combined with a long military career, Olivas has logged more than 20 years of working on the B-1. “At first, repairs were challenging, especially compared with the F-15 where I used to work,” he said. “The scope of the repairs in ’93 when I started on B-1 was huge and intimidating. But I learned to love this aircraft. You put your heart and soul into it and you start to see how graceful it is in the air, how responsive.” Olivas lives under the flight path of planes coming to the base, and he can hear the distinctive roar of the B-1’s four powerful engines. “Sometimes I look up and enjoy watching them fly over,” Olivas said. “The B-1 really delivers. It lives up to its promise.” n firstname.lastname@example.org View a video about the B-1 bomber at boeing.com/frontiers/videos/august.
Frontiers August 2015 Issue
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