B-1B fleet now equipped with Integrated Battle Station

Most extensive modification in B-1B history is a key to future relevancy.

September 30, 2020 in Defense

A U.S. Air Force crew completes a flight in an upgraded operational B-1B.

U.S. Air Force photo

Thirty-five years ago, the first B-1B bomber went into service and launched a legacy.

To keep it flying to 2040 and beyond, Boeing partnered with the U.S. Air Force on a variety of upgrades and modifications, including the Integrated Battle Station, or IBS, which enhances situational awareness and communications for crews. After Boeing delivered the final of 60 kits, the 567th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, installed the IBS modification into the final B-1 aircraft.

For Dale DeKinder, IBS program manager, the completion of this eight-year program demonstrates Boeing’s commitment to work closely with the Air Force to keep the nation’s bombers lethal in modern combat environments.

“Boeing provided all 60 kits to our customer without causing any installation delays on the fleet for this major and complex modification program,” DeKinder said, calling it “absolutely a One Boeing team effort across every function.”

IBS integrates three major aircraft modifications: a new front and aft flight deck, a new diagnostics system, and a new data link. The initial IBS Lot 1 contract was awarded in June 2011.

Over the years, the B-1B has continued to evolve from its original mission of nuclear deterrence to playing an essential role in long-range strike. Along with the IBS upgrade, Boeing is partnering with the U.S. Air Force to conduct full-scale fatigue testing on the fuselage and expand the aircraft’s capacity to carry crucial hypersonic weapons.

According to program leaders, these combined enhancements will ensure the B-1B fleet remains ready, relevant and viable within the global strike mission.