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

DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- 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 (IT) at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

Airmen from the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron here 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 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."