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AF cancels B-1 defensive upgrade

WASHINGTON -- Air Force officials recently announced that the service was canceling the B-1B Lancer's Defensive System Upgrade Program because of cost overruns and schedule slips, but remains committed to improving the aircraft's combat capability.

The DSUP was intended to replace the B-1's current defensive suite with new integrated defensive electronic countermeasure systems and add a fiber optic towed decoy to provide a more capable and upgradeable system, according to an Air Force report.

"The tough decision to terminate DSUP was made because we can really no longer sacrifice capability in pursuit of a post-2010 defensive system plagued by escalating problems with cost and schedule," said Maj. Gen. John D.W. Corley, director of Air Force global power programs at the Pentagon.

According to Corley, to continue with DSUP would have required a significant engineering, manufacturing and development program restructure that would have added 17 months and an additional $175 million to program costs.

Despite this decision by the Air Force, airmen who fly and maintain the B-1 need not worry about their aircraft's future, the general said.

"Last year during Operation Enduring Freedom, the airmen and aircraft performed brilliantly," he said. "They aptly demonstrated the key air and space superiority, global attack and precision engagement role the B-1 brings to the fight. We remain firmly committed to keeping the B-1 viable today and in the future."

The Air Force plans to do this by putting the more than $600 million freed up by this decision toward other B-1 efforts. These include upgrading the current B-1 defensive system, increasing the funding for B-1 sustaining engineering, increasing the purchase of B-1 weapons carriage equipment and developing an extended-range version of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile to increase the bomber's standoff capability.

"These investments will provide the B-1 fleet with distinct capabilities that are going to ensure it remains an important player in the service's expeditionary forces," Corley said.

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