Warplanes: May 4, 2003

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The B-1B was so successful over Iraq, flying 432 sorties and dropping 2,250 tons of bombs, that several upgrades are being proposed. 

@ Most important is a fully automated data link system, which would allow targeting data sent directly to the aircraft's targeting system. Over Iraq, targeting information (the GPS coordinates) were sent verbally. To insure there were no mistakes, all four crewmen wrote down the numbers, and then compared the information with each other to insure there were no errors. Then the coordinates were typed into the targeting system (which sent the data to the JDAMs being dropped.)

@ Replace the current ground surveillance radar (which can only distinguish objects at least ten feet long) with the radar used on the F-16 (that can pick out items as small as one foot large.) 

@ Replace the current electronic countermeasures (that never really worked well) with a cheaper, more effective, system. One suggestion is to use the system currently carried by the Navy F-18.

@ Install the Litening II targeting pod, which is already carried by B-52s. This would allow the B-1B to use the longer range JSAM (Joint Standoff Attack Missile), which the B-1B can carry twelve of externally. This would be in addition to the 24 JDAMs carried internally on the three rotary bomb racks. 

@ Build bomb racks that would allow the B-1B to carry the 250 pound JDAM. This would allow the aircraft to carry up to 144 250 pound bombs. 

@ Upgrade the targeting system so the smaller (250 pound) bombs could hit moving targets (especially vehicles moving in convoys.)

 


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