The US B-1 Lancer bomber will play an increasingly key role in the US strategic bomber fleet. At least until the B-21 Raider reaches enough production to meet the needs of the US Air Force.
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According to a senior US official, the B-1 will hit the “test tracks” this summer. New pylons developed by Boeing will be integrated into the American flagship. They should increase the payload capacity by 50% more than the bomber’s current capabilities.
Ms. Jennifer Wong, who is the Bombers’ senior director, told reporters at Edwards Air Force Base, California, that the new pylons will most likely turn the B-1 into a new hypersonic orgy launch test stand.
This news is good for the aging B-52 Stratofortress as part of the bomber’s “workload”. It is a known fact that this particular bomber is often used by the USAF to test air-launched rapid weapons.
5000 pounds more
What does 50% more payload mean? According to sources, the new pylons will be able to carry 5,000 pounds. According to sources, the new pylons will also allow the carrying of heavier weapons. Most likely, they are referring to the hypersonic weapon.
In fact, until sufficient numbers of the B-21 Raider are available, the B-1 will be the “carrier” of critical and tactical weapons. The idea for the USAF to reduce the payload of the B-1 is not from now. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that already in 2020, new pylons were also installed. They then allowed a test to take place in which the B-1 successfully carried 36 AGM-158 JASSM cruise missiles.
However, the new integration, which will be tested this summer, should apparently prepare the B-1 for its eventual longer-term deployment in the Asia-Pacific region. The tension along the China-Taiwan axis and the alleged conflict can be interpreted as one of the main reasons.
Let’s not forget that the B-1 was sent to India only a month ago. Although India has no intention of buying American bombers, local sources do not rule out such a possibility. More payload on the B-1 will give greater security to India’s defense amid China’s rapidly expanding tactical bomber fleet.
One of the other reasons for the increased payload of the B-1 is perhaps the failure of the B-52 in hypersonic development. A series of controversial tests most likely delisted the B-52 and replaced it with its successor.
About new pylons
Boeing is not giving much information about the pylons at the moment. They are known to be modular. This means that they will allow quick change of weapons, their movement, and adjustment. And not only. When the pylons are modular, it also means that not only American weapons will be able to integrate with them.
$10 million has been appropriated by Congress for the integration of the new pylons, including ground and flight tests. If the summer tests are successful, Boeing will receive an order to manufacture and equip at least 50 active bombers for the USAF. For reference – according to official data from external sources, the USAF has 62 bombers in its inventory.
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