The B-1 Lancer is a strategic bomber used by the United States Air Force. Its origins began in the 1960s as a supersonic bomber with sufficient range and payload to replace the B-52 Stratofortress, but developed primarily into a low-level, subsonic penetrator with long-range. The design was canceled and re-instated multiple times over its lengthy development history, as the theory of strategic balance changed from flexible response to mutually assured destruction and back again. It finally entered service over twenty years after first being studied.
The B-1B production version has been in service with the United States Air Force (USAF) since 1986. The Lancer serves as the supersonic-capable component of the USAF's long-range bomber force, along with the subsonic B-52 and B-2 Spirit. As with official popular names of other aircraft, the Lancer is commonly called the "Bone" (originally from "B-One") within the USAF. With the retirement of the EF-111 Raven in 1998 and the F-14 Tomcat in 2006, the B-1B is the last variable-sweep wing aircraft remaining in U.S. military inventory.
During the design phase new fuels and techniques evolved that would allow an aircraft with similar range to cruise all the way to its target at high speeds. The Air Force asked for new proposals based on these advances, and this work would eventually lead to the B-70 Valkyrie. The Valkyrie was a large six-engine bomber designed to fly at very high altitudes at Mach 3 to avoid defending interceptors, the only effective anti-bomber weapon at that time. Altitude alone was proving so difficult a problem that Soviet interceptors continued to fail to intercept the Lockheed U-2, running out of fuel before reaching a suitable firing point. Given the speed and altitude of the Valkyrie, the defense would have only a few minutes to respond to an attack, and even small numbers of the bombers attacking simultaneously would ensure that most would fly right by the interceptors, regardless of how much warning time they had.
The introduction of effective anti-aircraft missiles rendered this mode of operation dangerous. Unlike a manned interceptor that maneuvers within a plane while climbing, missiles flew straight up and could reach the B-70s altitude in a few minutes. The only concern became speed; as long as the target did not fly out of range before the missile reached it an attack was possible, and a powerful radar giving the operators some lead time could easily solve this problem. The ability of SAMs to intercept a high-altitude target was demonstrated by the downing of Gary Powers' U-2 in 1960, and continued improvements in the Soviet SAMs placed all high-altitude aircraft at increasing risk.
Operations at low levels would limit the B-70 to subsonic speed, while dramatically decreasing its range due to much higher fuel requirements. The result would be an aircraft with similar speed but much less range than the B-52 it would have replaced. This same problem had occurred with the B-58, another high-speed aircraft that was forced into the low-level role to avoid missile defenses. Considerable effort was spent on the B-58's design to gain medium-range Mach 2 performance, but at low altitudes it had strictly subsonic performance and such dramatically reduced range that it limited the selection of targets that could be assigned to it.
Unsuited for this new role, the viability of the B-70 as a bomber was questioned. Citing high cost, a growing ICBM force, and poor survivability against missiles, the operational fleet was canceled in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, and the program was changed to a supersonic research program.
Additionally, no other aircraft had anything close to the B-52's bombload capacity when used in the tactical role. With improved coordination with ground spotters, B-52s with "big belly" modifications delivered massive loads of high explosive bombs during the Vietnam War. The same would not have been true of the Valkyrie, which featured a much smaller bombload of 25,000 pounds (11,000 kg) and would have had more limited uses in the conventional bombing role.
That was not to say the B-52 was a perfect aircraft. Higher speed would aid even a low-level approach in the strategic role, something the F-111 was taking advantage of. In the high-load tactical role the aircraft was limited to a small number of airfields due to its very long takeoff roll. By the early 1960s the state of the art in engine and airframe design had improved considerably; an aircraft designed to match the B-52 in performance could meet both of these additional requirements as well. Although the B-52 had proven to be surprisingly adaptable in both the strategic and tactical roles, during the early 1960s a number of studies followed these technical developments in order to design a worthy B-52 replacement.
These all culminated in the October 1963 Advanced Manned Precision Strike System (AMPSS), which led to industry studies at Boeing, General Dynamics, and North American. In mid-1964, the USAF had revised its requirements and retitled the project as Advanced Manned Strategic Aircraft (AMSA), which differed from AMPSS primarily in that it also demanded a high-speed high-altitude capability, albeit slower than the Valkyrie at about Mach 2. Given the lengthy series of design studies, Rockwell engineers joked that the new name actually stood for "America's Most Studied Aircraft".
In the early 1960s newer generations of missiles with solid rocket motors were being introduced that could be launched quickly, even faster than bombers, and were sited in underground silos for protection. Sneak attacks on these weapons would be very difficult for the USSR, which lacked the required accuracy in their own weapons and would have to use their bombers in order to be effective against them. US air defenses would have made such an attack extremely unlikely to succeed. Accuracy of the new weapons was so improved that direct attacks against similar weapons in the USSR were a real possibility, and attacks on other military bases were now possible. Making matters more troublesome for the Air Force was the introduction and rapid improvement of the U.S. Navy's SLBM force, which had considerably better survivability than either bombers or hardened missile silos. After this period the Air Force used a number of different arguments to make its case for the strategic bomber, including the conventional role and "recall-ability", but these arguments were much less convincing.
One of the biggest critics of the bomber portion of the Triad was Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara who preferred ICBMs over bombers for the Air Force side of the deterrent force. In testimony before Congress, McNamara said, "The strategic missile forces for 1967-71 will provide more force than is required for 'Assured Destruction' ... a new advanced strategic aircraft does not at this time appear justified." His opposition led to the AMSA program being stopped in 1964. The program was revived only a few years later however, and in 1968 an advanced development contract was issued to IBM and North American Rockwell. McNamara remained opposed to the program in favor of upgrading the existing B-52 fleet, and adding just under 300 FB-111s for shorter range roles then being filled by the B-58. He vetoed the AMSA program and canceled it once again.
President Richard Nixon re-established the program after taking office, in keeping with his administration's flexible response strategy that required a broad range of options short of general nuclear war (the "Schlesinger Doctrine"). Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird reviewed the programs and decided to lower the numbers of FB-111s claiming it lacked the required range, and recommended that the AMSA design studies be accelerated. In April 1969 the program officially became the B-1A. This was the first entry in the new bomber designation series, first created in 1962.
After the prolonged development period, the production contract was finally awarded in 1970. The original program called for two test airframes, five flyable aircraft, and 40 engines. This was cut in 1971 to one ground- and three flight test aircraft (74-0158 through 0160). First flight was set for April 1974. The company changed its name to Rockwell International and named its aircraft division North American Aircraft Operations in 1973. A fourth prototype (76-1074) was ordered in the FY 1976 budget. This fourth aircraft was to be built to production standards. At one time, some 240 B-1As planned to be built, with initial operational capability set for 1979.
Rockwell's design featured a number of features common to 1960s U.S. designs. These included the use of variable-sweep wings in order to provide both high lift during takeoff and landing, and low drag during a high-speed dash phase. With the wings set to their widest position the aircraft had considerably better lift and power than the B-52, allowing it to operate from a much wider variety of bases. Penetration of the USSR's defenses would take place in a dash, crossing them as quickly as possible before entering into the less defended "heartland" where speeds could be reduced again. The large size and fuel capacity of the design would allow this dash portion of the flight to be relatively long.
In order to achieve the required Mach 2 performance at high altitudes, the air intake inlets were variable. In addition, the exhaust nozzles were fully variable. Initially, it had been expected that a Mach 1.2 performance could be achieved at low altitude, which required that titanium be used in critical areas in the fuselage and wing structure. However, this low altitude performance requirement was lowered to only Mach 0.85, reducing the amount of titanium, and the overall cost.
Crew escape was provided for using an escape pod that ejected a portion of the entire cockpit with both pilots inside, as opposed to the more conventional ejection seats; it was felt that egress during a high-speed, high-altitude dash would be too dangerous without pressurization. A pair of small canards mounted near the nose are part of an active vibration damping system that smooths out the otherwise bumpy low-altitude ride, reducing crew fatigue and improving airframe life.
An extensive suite of electronics was planned, including a Litton LN-15 inertial navigation system, a Doppler radar altimeter, a Hughes forward-looking infrared, a General Electric APQ-114 forward-looking radar and a Texas Instruments APQ-146 terrain-following radar. The terrain-following radar, in particular, would allow the B-1 to fly at much lower altitudes during the "dash" phase of the mission than the B-52, which relied on older systems that demanded higher minimum altitudes during bad weather.
Overall it had a range similar to that of the B-52, although more of the flight could be low-level. A combination of flying lower due to better navigation systems and a greatly reduced radar cross section made it much safer from attack by missiles, and the latter also improved its odds against fighters as well. In situations where fighters were the expected competition (i.e. outside the USSR), its high-speed dash was a potentially useful technique the B-52 could not match. A convincing B-52 replacement had arrived.
In 1976 Viktor Belenko defected to Japan with his MiG-25 "Foxbat". During debriefing he described a new "super-Foxbat" (almost certainly referring to the MiG-31) that had look-down/shoot-down radar systems in order to attack cruise missiles. This would also make any low-level penetration aircraft "visible" and easy to attack. Countering this problem would require another upgrade to the electronic countermeasures suite, already one of the most complex and expensive ever fitted. The debate over the need for the bomber opened anew, and this time the reduced low-speed dash was a particular target. Given the performance and the armament suite that was similar to the B-52, the program was increasingly questioned as a very expensive solution that appeared to have limited benefits over the existing fleet.
The program remained highly controversial. In particular, Senator William Proxmire continually derided it in public, arguing it was an outlandishly expensive dinosaur. During the 1976 federal election campaign, Jimmy Carter made it one of the Democratic Party's platforms, saying "The B-1 bomber is an example of a proposed system which should not be funded and would be wasteful of taxpayers' dollars."
When Carter took office in 1977 he ordered a review of the entire program. By this point the projected cost of the program had risen to over $100 million per aircraft, although this was lifetime cost over 20 years. He was informed of the relatively new work on stealth aircraft that had started in 1975, and decided that this was a far better avenue of approach than the B-1. Pentagon officials also stated that the ALCM launched from the existing B-52 fleet would give the USAF equal capability of penetrating Soviet airspace. With a range of 1,500 miles (2,400 km), the ALCM could be launched well outside the range of any Soviet defenses, and penetrate at low altitude just like a bomber, but in much greater numbers. A small number of B-52 operating outside interception range could launch hundreds of ALCMs, saturating the defense. A program to improve the B-52 and develop and deploy the ALCM would cost perhaps 20% of the price to deploy the planned 244 B-1A's.
On 30 June 1977 Carter announced that the B-1A would be canceled in favor of ICBMs, SLBMs, and a fleet of modernized B-52s armed with ALCMs. Carter called it "one of the most difficult decisions that I've made since I've been in office." No mention of the stealth work was made public, the program being top secret, but today it is known that he authorized the Advanced Technology Bomber (ATB) project in early 1978, which eventually led to the B-2 Spirit.
Unsurprisingly, the reaction to the cancellation was split along partisan lines. Robert Dornan claimed, "They're breaking out the vodka and caviar in Moscow." In contrast, it appears the Soviets were not at all excited by this development, considering a large number of ALCMs represented a much greater threat than a smaller number of B-1s. Tass commented that "the implementation of these militaristic plans has seriously complicated efforts for the limitation of the strategic arms race." Western military leaders were generally happy with the decision. Alexander Haig, then commanding NATO, described the ALCM as an "attractive alternative" to the B-1. French General Georges Buis stated "The B-1 is a formidable weapon, but not terribly useful. For the price of one bomber, you can have 200 cruise missiles."
Flight tests of the four B-1A prototypes for the B-1A program continued through April 1981. The program included 70 flights totalling 378 hours. A top speed of Mach 2.22 was reached by the second B-1A. Engine testing also continued during this time with the YF101 engines totalling almost 7,600 hours.
The Army responded by accelerating its Rapid Deployment Force concept, but suffered from major problems with airlift and sealift capability. While gaming a USSR-led invasion of Iran from Afghanistan, then considered (incorrectly) to be a major Soviet goal, it was discovered that only small numbers of units could be in the field in anything close to a week. In order to slow an advance while this happened they relied on air power, but critically the Iran-Afghanistan border was outside the U.S. Navy's range, leaving this role to the Air Force. They, in turn, had limited capability to offer ground support in many areas that were outside the range of friendly airbases. Although the B-52 had the range to support on-demand global missions, the B-52's long runway requirements dramatically limited the forward basing possibilities. In real-world scenarios the capabilities of this force against any given potential target was limited, something the B-1 would be better prepared to handle due to its better takeoff performance and range.
During the 1980 presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan campaigned heavily on the platform that Carter was weak on defense, using the cancellation of the B-1 program as a prime example, a theme he continued using into the 1980s. During this time Carter's defense secretary, Harold Brown, announced the stealth bomber project, apparently implying that this was the reason for the B-1 cancellation. Brown later denied this claim, stating Carter was simply opposed to any military buildup. Although Reagan's primary attack on Carter's decision was now rendered moot, he immediately changed his complaint saying that Carter was giving away secrets and politicizing The Pentagon, charges that led to a round of sparring between Brown and Reagan in the press. Interestingly, it was Brown that had led the original AMSA program, but later came to prefer the cruise missile after taking the job of Defense Secretary in 1977.
On taking office, Reagan was faced with the same decision as Carter before; whether to continue with the B-1 for the short term, or to wait for the development of the ATB, a much more advanced aircraft. He decided to do both. Air Force studies suggested that the existing B-52 fleet with ALCM would remain a credible threat until 1985 , as it was predicted that 75% of the B-52 force would survive to attack its targets. After this period the introduction of the SA-10 missile, MiG-31 interceptor and the first Soviet AWACS systems would make them increasingly vulnerable.
During the FY81 budget funds were given to a new study for a bomber for the 1990s time-frame. These studies led to the Long-Range Combat Aircraft (LRCA) project which compared the B-1, F-111 and ATB as possible solutions. An emphasis was placed on the design being multi-role, as opposed to a purely strategic weapon. At the time it was believed the B-1 could be in operation before the B-2, covering the time period between the B-52s increasing vulnerability and the introduction of the ATB. Reagan decided the best solution was to purchase both the B-1 and ATB, and this eventually led to Reagan's 2 October 1981 announcement that a new version of the B-1 was being ordered to fill the LRCA role.
Numerous changes were made to the design to better fit it to real-world missions, resulting in the new B-1B. These changes included a reduction in maximum speed, which allowed the variable-aspect intake ramps to be replaced by simpler fixed geometry intake ramps in the newer design. This made the B version more radar-stealthy because the compressor faces of the engines, major radar reflectors, would be partially hidden. Low-altitude speed was somewhat improved, from about Mach 0.85 to 0.92. This left the B-1B with the capability for speeds of about Mach 1.25 "at altitude," a reduction from the B-1A's Mach 2 performance. In order to deal with the introduction of the MiG-31 and other aircraft with look-down capability, the B-1B's electronic warfare suite was significantly upgraded. These changes, along with the rampant inflation of the U.S. economy during the time, dramatically increased the nominal price to about $200 million total projected lifetime cost per completed airframe.
Opposition to the plan was widespread within Congress. Critics pointed out that many of the original problems with the concept remained. In particular it seemed the B-52 fit with electronics similar to the B-1B would be equally able to avoid interception, as the speed advantage of the B-1 was now minimal. It also appeared that the "interim" time frame served by the B-1B would be less than a decade, being rendered obsolete shortly after introduction by the much more capable ATB design. The primary argument in favor of the B-1 was its large conventional payload, and that its takeoff performance allowed it to operate with a credible bombload from a much wider variety of airfields. The debate remained rancorous. But the Air Force very astutely spread production subcontracts across many congressional districts, making the aircraft more popular on Capitol Hill.
The first production model of the revised B-1B first flew in October 1984, and the first B-1B, "The Star of Abilene", was delivered to Dyess Air Force Base, Abilene, Texas, in June 1985, with initial operational capability on 1 October, 1986. The 100th and final B-1B was delivered 2 May 1988.
Although officially named the "Lancer", B-1 crews almost never refer to the aircraft by this name. Crews prefer to call the B-1 the "Bone". Origins of the "Bone" nickname are disputed, but appear to stem from an early newspaper article about the aircraft wherein its name was phonetically spelled out as "B-ONE" and inadvertently omitted the hyphen. Crews, who generally felt the "Lancer" moniker was unappealing, quickly latched onto the "Bone" nickname.
The B-1 has a blended wing body configuration, with variable-sweep wing, triangular fin control surfaces and four turbofan engines, to improve range and speed with enhanced survivability. Forward swept wing settings are used for takeoff, landings and high-altitude maximum cruise. Aft swept wing settings are used in high subsonic and supersonic flight. The wings of the B-1B originally were cleared for use at settings of 15, 25, 55, and 67.5 degrees. The 45-degree setting was later cleared in 1998–99 timeframe.
The length of the aircraft presented a serious flexing problem due to air turbulence at low altitude. To alleviate this, Rockwell included small canards near the nose on the B-1. An accelerometer would actuate the canards automatically to counteract turbulence and smooth out the ride.
Unlike the B-1A, the B-1B made no attempt at Mach 2+ speeds. Its maximum speed at altitude is Mach 1.25 (about 950 mph or 1,530 km/h), but its low-level speed increased to Mach 0.92 (700 mph, 1,130 km/h). Technically, the current version of the aircraft can exceed its speed restriction, but not without risking potential damage to its structure and air intakes. The B-1A's engine was modified slightly to produce the F101-102, with an emphasis on durability, and increased efficiency. The core of this engine has since been re-used in several other engine designs, including the F110 which has seen use in the F-14 Tomcat, F-15K/SG variants and most recent versions of the F-16 Fighting Falcon. It is also the basis for the non-afterburning F118 used in the B-2 Spirit bomber and the U-2S. However its greatest success was forming the core of the extremely popular CFM56 civil engine, which can be found on some versions of practically every small-to-medium sized airliner. The nose gear cover door has controls for the auxiliary power units (APUs), main gear doors and nearby entry ladder. These controls are called the "Alert Start" panel and can quickly activate the APUs upon order to scramble.
The B-1's offensive avionics include the Westinghouse (now Northrop Grumman) AN/APQ-164 forward-looking offensive passive electronically scanned array radar set with electronic beam steering (and a fixed antenna pointed downward for reduced radar observability), synthetic aperture radar, ground moving target indicator (MTI), and terrain-following radar modes, Doppler navigation, radar altimeter, and an inertial navigation suite. From 1995 on, the B-1B Block D upgrade added a Global Positioning System receiver.
The B-1's defensive electronics include the Eaton AN/ALQ-161 radar warning and defensive jamming equipment, linked to a total of eight AN/ALE-49 flare dispensers located on top behind the canopy, which are handled by the AN/ASQ-184 avionics management system. The AN/ALE-49 dispenser has a capacity of 12 MJU-23A/B flares each. The MJU-23A/B flare is one of the world's largest infrared countermeasure flares having a gross weight of ~1170 g. The cylindrical Magnesium/Teflon/Viton pellet has a net weight of ~1470 g. The Plans for a defensive systems upgrade program (DSUP) were canceled for budgetary reasons. The B-1 has also been equipped to carry the ALE-50 Towed Decoy System. The Lancer has an additional Doppler tail-warning radar to detect aircraft or missiles approaching from the rear.
Also aiding the B-1's survivability is its relatively low radar cross-section (RCS). Although not technically a stealth aircraft in a comprehensive sense, thanks to the aircraft's structure, serpentine intake paths and use of radar-absorbent material its RCS is about 1/50th that of the B-52 (probably about 26 ft²/2.4 m²), although the Lancer is not substantially smaller in mass than the Stratofortress.
The B-1 has been upgraded since production through the "Conventional Mission Upgrade Program". This multi-stage program added a new MIL-STD-1760 smart-weapons interface that enables the use of the Joint Direct Attack Munition and other precision-guided conventional weapons, such as the Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser (WCMD), the AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW), and the AGM-158 JASSM (Joint Air to Surface Standoff Munition). Future precision munitions include the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb. These and other improvements are intended to ensure that the B-1 will be viable through approximately 2020. In addition, the Air Force has recently announced a program to keep the aircraft flying until at least 2040.
Originally designed strictly for nuclear war, the B-1's development as an effective conventional bomber was delayed until the 1990s. By 1991, the B-1 had a fledgling conventional capability, forty of them able to drop the 500 lb (230 kg) Mk-82 General Purpose (GP) bomb, although mostly from low altitude. Although cleared for this role, the problems with the engines precluded their use in Operation Desert Storm. Also, B-1s were reserved for strategic nuclear strike missions at this time.
After the absorption of Strategic Air Command (SAC) into Air Combat Command (ACC) in 1992, the B-1 began to truly develop conventionally. A key part of this development was the start-up of the B-1 Weapons School Division, also in 1992. By the mid-1990s, the B-1 could employ GP weapons as well as various CBUs. By the end of the 1990s, with the advent of the "Block D" upgrade, the B-1 boasted a full array of guided and unguided munitions. This development has continued through the present.
Operationally, the B-1 was first used in combat in support of operations against Iraq during Operation Desert Fox in December 1998, employing unguided GP weapons. B-1s have been subsequently used in Operation Allied Force (Kosovo) and most notably in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In both conflicts, the B-1 employed its full array of conventional weapons, most notably the GBU-31, 2,000 lb (900 kg) Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). During OEF, the B-1 improved its mission capable rate to 79%. The B-1 continues to be used in combat to the present day. The most recent addition to its arsenal is the GBU-38, a 500 lb (230 kg) JDAM. The use of the GBU-38 reduces undesired collateral damage and is very useful in urban Close Air Support.
The B-1 now fills an important niche in the Air Force inventory. The project finished on budget, and the B-1 has higher survivability and speed when compared to the older B-52, which it was intended to replace. With the arrival of limited numbers of B-2s in the 1990s and the continuing use of B-52s, its value has been questioned. However, the capability of a high-speed strike with a large bomb payload for time-sensitive operations is useful, and no new strategic bomber is on the immediate horizon.
The B-1 holds several FAI world records for speed, and time-to-climb in different aircraft weight classes. The National Aeronautic Association recognized the B-1B for completing one of the 10 most memorable record flights for 1994.
A total of 100 B-1Bs were produced with 93 bombers remaining in 2000 after losses in accidents. In 2003, following the removal of the B-1B from two bomb wings in the Air National Guard, the USAF decided to retire 33 of the B-1Bs to concentrate its budget on maintaining availability of the remaining aircraft, although in 2004 a new appropriations bill called for some of the retired aircraft to return to service. In 2004, the USAF returned seven of the mothballed bombers to service, giving a total force of 67 aircraft, with the rest cannibalized for spares. Five of the seven that were brought back to service went to Dyess AFB in Texas, one to Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, and another to Edwards AFB, California.
On 14 July 2007, the Associated Press reported on the growing USAF presence in Iraq as a result of "surge" in forces. Also mentioned is the reintroduction of B-1Bs to be a close-at-hand "platform" to support Coalition ground forces. As of 2008, the B-1 is being used in Iraq in close support of ground troops by delivering precision-guided bombs.
On 19 March 2008, a B-1B from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, became the first US Air Force aircraft to fly at supersonic speed using a synthetic fuel during a flight over Texas and New Mexico. The B-1B is undergoing flight testing using a 50/50 mix of synthetic and petroleum fuel as part of an ongoing Air Force testing program.
On 4 August 2008, a B-1B flew the first Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod equipped combat sortie where the crew successfully targeted enemy ground forces and dropped a GBU-38 guided bomb in Afghanistan.
The B-1B is the improved B-1 design with reduced radar signature and a top speed of Mach 1.25. A total of 100 B-1Bs were produced.
Boeing's proposal appears to modify the B-1B into a design able to serve these two purposes. For the bomb-truck role Boeing proposes the modification of existing external hardpoints to allow them to carry multiple conventional warheads, dramatically improving overall warload. For the air-to-air role, both defensive and offensive, they propose to add active electronically-scanned array radar and allow some of the hardpoints to carry anti-aircraft missiles. Even with its somewhat reduced range as compared to the original B-1B, its fuel capacity remains quite large. This would allow it to escape from unfavorable air-to-air encounters by simply running away; there are few enough aircraft capable of Mach 2+ performance in general, and those that are deployed can maintain these speeds for only very short periods of time.
In general terms the B-1R most closely resembles the original F-111 concept, as opposed to a pure bomber role. However, it would be able to carry out these missions at ranges even greater than the F-111.
The Conventional Mission Upgrade Program (CMUP) will enhance the airplane's effectiveness as a conventional weapons carrier. Capability will be delivered in blocks attained by hardware modifications and software updates.
After the CMUP program, upgrades will provide for better network centric capability. A program was begun in 2005 to provide integrated data linking and upgraded crew station displays. Integration of the Sniper targeting pod is underway. The pod is mounted on an external hardpoint at the aircraft's chin near the forward bomb bay. Due to accelerated testing the Sniper pod is expected to be fielded in summer 2008.
Between 1984 and 2001, 17 people have been killed in B-1 crashes.
The B-1 and B-52 bombers have been featured frequently in author Dale Brown's books. A B-1 carries the President to NORAD, during an alien invasion in the Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle science fiction novel Footfall.
The unofficial 1983 James Bond film Never Say Never Again features a cruise missile launch from a B-1 (although a sequence in which cruise missiles are loaded onto the B-1 was filmed with a Concorde SST substituting for the B-1's undercarriage). In the 1985 film Real Genius, the laser weapon that is developed by Chris Knight is mounted in a B-1's bomb bay.