Defense

July 21, 2014

Weapons School students get first look at upgraded B-1s

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A1C Alexander Guerrero
Dyess AFB, Texas

Maj. Brad Weber checks a screen that displays diagnostic information May 7, 2014, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. The IBS is a combination of three different upgrades, which includes a Fully Integrated Data Link, a Vertical Situation Display upgrade, and a Central Integrated System upgrade. The VSDU upgrades the B-1’s forward cockpit by replacing two unsupportable, monochrome pilot and copilot displays with four multifunctional color displays, giving pilots more situational awareness data in a user-friendly format. Weber is a 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron, defensive weapons operator.

For the first time students from the U.S. Air Force Weapons School got to fly with the newly upgraded Sustainment Block-16 B-1B Lancer during the student’s Integration Phase at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

Airmen from the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, brought the B-1B to Nellis AFB, allowing weapons school students hands-on time with the new technology. The three-week exercise is the final phase of the weapons school curriculum and allows students to put all their learned skills to practice in a training environment that is as close to actual combat as possible.

“The IT is the capstone exercise to the U.S. Air Force Weapons Instructor Course,” said Maj. Andrew Maguire, who is assigned to the 77th Weapons Squadron. “Students from different Air Force assets, like space and cyber, integrated to solve some of the most challenging real-world problems that the Air Force can provide short of actual combat. In some cases, the training problems were more difficult than real-world problems.”

The first newly upgraded operational B1-B Lancer lands Jan. 21, 2014, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. The B-1B Lancer was recently upgraded with a new Integrated Battle Station. The new system includes a combination of three different upgrades. One major upgrade incorporates a modern datalink communication network that allows real-time communication with other aircraft, ground stations, and allied forces. The data link also enhances crew awareness of the battle space, and allows for quicker targeting.

The 337th TES part in the exercise was to test the new SB-16 and 15 B-1B Lancers performance, while allowing the weapons students to familiarize themselves with the upgraded systems.

“With the 337th TES coming along during the IT, our students had the unique opportunity to be the first B-1 aviators to integrate the new hardware and software in a training environment this realistic,” Maguire said.

The weapons school instructors were pleased with the performance of both the students and the capabilities the SB-16 provided for the B-1 airframe.

“The students and aircraft performed well,” Maguire said. “One of the instructors even said the new system provided him so much situational awareness that, ‘it was almost like cheating.'”

The knowledge that the 337th TES’ instructors gave the undergraduates provided them with the basic know-how on the revamped B-1s and gave them a unique training experience. They also flew several sorties on the SB-16 B-1 to gain some familiarity with the upgraded airframe.

“I wish I could give every B-1 aviator the opportunity to attend the phenomenal training provided by the weapons school,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Creer, the 77th Weapons Squadron commander. “I also feel that it was such a good opportunity for the 337th that we’d like to have them out there again.”




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