The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] this week installed the final Block E avionics modification kit on the U.S. Air Force's active fleet of 67 B-1B Lancer long-range heavy bombers, completing a five-year, $680 million contract for enhanced computer hardware, software and weapons delivery capability.
The installation concluded the third phase of the Conventional Mission Upgrade Program (CMUP) undertaken in 1993 to convert the B-1 from a nuclear to a conventional role. A small number of CMUP-equipped Lancers delivered more tonnage of ordnance while flying fewer sorties than any other aircraft during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"With at least 40 more years of airframe life, the CMUP-equipped B-1 forms a solid foundation for the network-centric upgrades currently being developed for it," said Greg Burton, Boeing director for B-1 and B-2 programs. "Connecting the airplane into the Global Information Grid will provide combat commanders with a potent long-range strike capability for decades to come."
The Block E modification replaces six computers with four, providing a 25-fold increase in throughput, memory and input/output margins required for conventional weapons capability, defensive systems upgrades and future growth. The package also integrates the Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispenser, the Joint Standoff Weapon and the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, substantially augmenting the bomber's standoff capability.
Carrying the largest payload in the Air Force inventory, the multi-mission B-1B forms the backbone of America's long-range bomber force. Its low radar cross-section, variable-geometry wings, turbofan afterburning engines and advanced electronic countermeasures combine to provide long range, maneuverability and high speed while enhancing survivability.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing
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