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What's On A B-1B Lancer Aircrew's Wish List? Room For More Bombs
Editor’s Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on Military.com, the premier source of information for the military and veteran community.
But thinking about future airmen who will have to deploy and put bombs on target, leaders are hoping the B-1B Lancer get a scheduled upgrade to its bomb racks.
The main reason? So it can carry more than it already does.
"We have the largest payload, we have the speed to get to where we need to get to, we have the loiter time to hang out once we're there," said Lt. Col. Dominic "Beaver" Ross, director of operations for the 337th Test and Evaluations Squadron here at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.
The 337th, umbrellaed under both the 53rd Test and Evaluations Group, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and the 53rd Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, conducts test and evaluations for all B-1 offensive and defense systems.
Military.com sat down with Ross during a trip to the base, and took a ride Tuesday in the B-1B over training ranges in New Mexico.
The aircraft's method of dropping bombs needs work, he said.
"We are getting what's called a BRU-56, an ejector rack [modification] and there's safety reasons for why we're getting it, but it gives us capability," Ross said.
The long-range aircraft has three types of racks that it carries in each of its three bomb bays.
"Where that ejector rack mounts on that eight-carry launcher, it just bolts on there," Ross said. "Our conventional rotary launcher … is what we carry our [GBU-31] 2,000-pound weapons with. It has eight stations on it."
But "there was a failure rate on those ejector racks," he said without elaboration.
Aside from that, there's also a spacing issue. "The B-1 carries the most 2,000-pound [Joint Direct Attack Munitions], but we [have to] carry [fewer] 500-pound [Joint Direct Attack Munitions]," Ross explained.
Two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, fly a 10-hour mission from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, with two Republic of Korea air force F-15s in the vicinity of the Korean peninsula, June 20, 2017.Photo via U.S. Air Force/Tech Sgt. Kamaile Chan
When the aircraft was a nuclear platform, the BRU-56 was originally designed to carry nuclear weapons with 30-inch lug spacing, according to the program's solicitation posted on FedBizOps. But the mod calls for more variety in the ejector spacing.
"A modification and upgrade to the BRU-56 ejector rack on the Multi-Purpose Rotary Launcher (MPRL), to include 14-inch lug spacing capability, would contribute to increased safety, quicker sortie generation rates, lower maintenance time, increased reliability, and lower maintenance personnel requirements," the solicitation says.
The variation in ejector spacing is needed because GBU-38 500-pound weapons have tail kits "that are a little bit too long" for some of the carry-racks, Ross said.
Depending on whether the bombs are in the forward weapons, intermediate or rear AFT bay, there must be meticulous rearrangement so they can properly fit, he said.
"They won't fit on the upper station on the 10-carry rack," Ross said. "So it's funny because … we only carry 15 total, 500-pound JDAMs, but we can carry 24 2,000-pound JDAMs."
The BRU-56 modification will expand the rack to carry eight 500-pound JDAMs in each bay, "so it will [be able to] carry the same number [as] the 2,000-pounders," he said.
The upgrade may take awhile. The Air Force has only just started the bidding process, according to the FedBizOps post, which stipulates roughly three years time to design, develop and manufacture the upgrade.
Currently, the B-1 can carry 75,000 pounds -- 5,000 pounds more than the B-52 Stratofortress -- of both precision-guided and conventional bombs.
Those bombs include Mk-82 or Mk-84 general-purpose bombs; Mk-62 or Mk-65 Quick Strike naval mines bombs; cluster munitions such as the CBU-87, -89, -97 or Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispensers such as the CBU-103, -104, -105; GBU-31 or GBU-38 JDAMs; AGM-158A Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles; and GBU-54 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions.
This article originally appeared on Military.com
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(Reuters) - In the summer of 2004, U.S. soldier Greg Walker drove to a checkpoint just outside of Baghdad's Green Zone with his Kurdish bodyguard, Azaz. When he stepped out of his SUV, three Iraqi guards turned him around at gunpoint.
As he walked back to the vehicle, he heard an AK-47 being racked and a hail of cursing in Arabic and Kurdish. He turned to see Azaz facing off with the Iraqis.
"Let us through or I'll kill you all," Walker recalled his Kurdish bodyguard telling the Iraqi soldiers, who he described as "terrified."
He thought to himself: "This is the kind of ally and friend I want."
The US military quietly pulled 2,000 troops out of Afghanistan over the past year without a peace deal
The U.S. military has pulled about 2,000 troops from Afghanistan over the past year, the top U.S. and coalition military commander said Monday.
"As we work in Afghanistan with our partners, we're always looking to optimize the force," Army Gen. Austin Miller said at a news conference in Kabul. "Unbeknownst to the public, as part of our optimization … we reduced our authorized strength by 2,000 here."
"I'm confident that we have the right capabilities to: 1. Reach our objectives as well as continue train, advise, and assist throughout the country," Miller continued.
The New York Times was first to report that the U.S. military had reduced its troop strength in Afghanistan even though peace talks with the Taliban are on hiatus. The number of troops in the country has gone from about 15,000 to 13,000, a U.S. official told Task & Purpose on condition of anonymity.
Separately, the U.S. military is considering drawing down further to 8,600 troops in Afghanistan as part of a broader political agreement, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters on Oct. 19.
"We've always said, that it'll be conditions based, but we're confident that we can go down to 8,600 without affecting our [counterterrorism] operations, if you will," Esper said while enroute to Afghanistan.
So far, no order has been given to draw down to 8,600 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the U.S. official said.
After President Donald Trump cancelled peace talks with the Taliban, which had been expected to take place at Camp David around the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.S. military has increased both air and ground attacks.
In September, U.S. military aircraft dropped more ordnance in Afghanistan than they have since October 2010, according to Air Force statistics.
However, the president has also repeatedly vowed to bring U.S. troops home from the post 9/11 wars. Most recently, he approved withdrawing most U.S. troops from Syria.
On Monday, Esper said the situations in Syria and Afghanistan are very different, so the Afghans and other U.S. allies "should not misinterpret our actions in the recent week or so with regard to Syria."
DOHUK, Iraq/KABUL (Reuters) - The Pentagon is considering keeping some U.S. troops near oilfields in northeastern Syria alongside Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to help deny oil to Islamic State militants, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Monday.
U.S. troops are crossing into Iraq as part of a broader withdrawal from Syria ordered by President Donald Trump, a decision that allowed Turkey to launch an offensive against the SDF which for years was a U.S. ally battling Islamic State.