B-1 STRATEGIC BOMBER
The B-1 strategic bomber is
being developed by the Air Force to modernize its strategic
bomber force. As a key element of the nation's strategic Triad
of manned bombers, land-based and sea-launched missiles, the new
bomber will be able to serve the United States' nuclear
deterrence objective through its ability to deliver heavy
payloads over long ranges and through a hostile environment.
A medium gross weight bomber powered by four 30,000 pound
(13,600 kilogram) thrust class augmented turbofan engines, the
B-1's three large weapons bays will provide it the flexibility
to carry nuclear air-to-surface missiles, nuclear or
conventional gravity bombs, mines, other weapons, or fuel as
required by varying mission requirements. It will carry a crew
While only two-thirds the size of the B-52, the B-1 is designed
to carry nearly twice the payload. Its variable geometry, or
"swing," wing will enable it to fly efficiently at supersonic
speeds at high altitudes and at high subsonic speeds at treetop
altitudes. This swing-wing feature will permit faster takeoff
from much shorter runways. The aircraft will have greater
hardness to the effect of a nuclear blast, far faster
penetration speed, lower penetration altitude, and a greatly
reduced radar cross section compared to the B-52.
The B-1 will also:
• Through a combination of rapid acceleration, short runway
requirement, subsystem design and improved hardness to nuclear
effects reach a safe escape distance from its launch base much
faster than the B-52. This significantly improves its
survivability should an enemy attempt a surprise ICBM or SLBM
• Takeoff in a much shorter distance and will thereby be able to
use about 150 more existing runways than are available to the
B-52. This permits greater dispersal and faster reaction by the
Strategic Air Command (SAC) alert-bomber force.
• Have a greater capability to penetrate an enemy's defenses.
This stems from higher speeds at lower altitudes as well as
advance electronic countermeasures and a small radar cross
Today's B-1 is the product
of over 14 years of studies, design, development, fabrication,
and exhaustive testing. Air Force development contracts were
awarded in June 1970; North American Rockwell (now Rockwell
International Corp.) was selected to build the B-1 airframe and
and General Electric the F101 turbofan engines. Four aircraft
currently are included in the development program.
Construction of the first aircraft was completed in Rockwell's
final-assembly facility at Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale,
California, and was roiled out there on October 26, 1974. First
flight of the B-1 was successfully completed on December 23,
1974, with a 1 hour and 18 minute test flight from Palmdale to
nearby Edwards AFB.
Work on the second B-1 aircraft is proceeding on schedule. The
plane was rolled out at Palmdale on May 11, 1976, and is
currently undergoing fuel and propulsion system checkouts in
preparation for its first flight this summer. It successfully
completed eight months of structural proof loads testing at
Lockheed Aircraft Corporation's Palmdale facility in June 1975
and will be used for structural loads flight testing.
The third B-1 was rolled out at Palmdale on January 16 and
completed its first flight to Edwards AFB on April 1. This
aircraft is the first B-1 with a complete offensive avionics
subsystem and will be used to evaluate the capability of the B-l
to perform its intended mission. Flight testing will involve the
evaluation of offensive avionics subsystem functions, with
primary emphasis placed upon low altitude penetration using
automatic terrain following equipment, weapons delivery
capabilities, navigation, and communications.
Development of the fourth B-1 commenced on August 15, 1975, with
the award of an Air Force contract amendment to Rockwell
International. The aircraft will include cost reducing design
refinements to the forward fuselage (ejection seats instead of
the current crew escape capsule) and engine nacelles, and
redesign of the forward fuselage and aft avionics bay to
accommodate defensive avionics equipment. It will be used for
flight test of the B-l defensive avionics and is currently
expected to fly for the first time in early 1979.
General Electric's F101 turbofan engine successfully completed
its Preliminary Flight Rating Test (PFRT) on April 16, 1974. It
is currently undergoing Product Verification (PV) testing and is
expected to be tested sufficiently to verify readiness for
initial production and service by this fall.
Initial production contracts are expected to be awarded late
this year if a go-ahead is given by the Department of Defense
and Congress. The first of 240 production B-1s could be expected
to enter the Air Force inventory in mid-1979. Initial
operational capability with the Strategic Air Command would then
occur in early 1982.
System Description •
Development Progress •
Flight Test Program •
Funding & Cost Data •
Dimensions and Performance•
Contractors & Program Management
information on this page is from the USAF Fact Sheet of May 1976
regarding B-1 Strategic Bomber aircraft. aeroengineer.net only
provided the web design for this page.