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B-1B Lancer upgrade will triple payload

DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Airmen from the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron began their first phase of demonstrations of a multiple ejector rack on a B-1B Lancer here March 22.

If fielded, 16-carry modified rotary launchers will increase the number of 500-pound joint direct attack munitions and laser-guided JDAMs carried by the B-1B from 15 to 48, a 320 percent increase in capability.

"Currently a B-1 can deliver twice the payload of a B-52 (Stratofortress), meaning, theoretically, with the MER upgrade, one B-1 will be able to deliver the same amount of payload as four B-52s," said Col. Gerald Goodfellow, the 7th Operations Group commander.

Also, the MER has a mixed-load capability, meaning each bomb bay can hold an assortment of joint air-to-surface stand-off missiles, and both 2,000-pound and 500-pound JDAMs, giving the aircrew much greater flexibility during combat missions.

"The war we are in requires target specific weaponry that is capable of destroying a single room of a building," said Tech Sgt. David Koscienski, the 337th TES weapons suitability NCO in charge. "With the addition of the MER, B-1 operators have the ability to conduct numerous individual attacks and massive air-strikes as needed, without needing to stop to reload."

Aircrews from the 337th TES and 419th Flight Test Squadron from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., flew a Dyess AFB B-1B equipped with a MER and successfully released two inert 500-pound JDAMs over China Lake Missile Range, Calif, March 22. An additional mission was also successfully flown March 24 to test drop the weapons again.

"The B-1 is absolutely a choice war-fighting platform considering it can carry multiple weapons, each with specific capabilities, and deploy those weapons at a moment's notice," Sergeant Koscienski said. "The adaptation of the MER, along with the sniper pod and laser-guided JDAMS, will only increase that same lethal capability to an even greater level."

The purpose of the 16-carry demonstration program is to validate the release and safe separation of 500-pound class weapons from a modified B-1B rotary launcher.

"This upgrade will not only save the Air Force money, but will also put less of our Airmen at risk; and that is our main priority," Colonel Goodfellow said.
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