Lancers Chase the Laser

Boeing won a $55.3 million contract to replace the B-1 bomber’s original inertial navigation system with a ring laser “gyro” system with no physically moving parts, announced the company. “With no moving parts to wear out and repair, this upgrade will dramatically increase system reliability,” said Rick Greenwell, Boeing’s B-1 program director. Traditional gyros measure an aircraft’s attitude relative to the resistance generated by a spinning mass. The new instrument, instead, compares the relative time in which opposing laser beams cover a fixed circuit, explains Air & Space magazine. Boeing will begin retrofitting the Lancer fleet with the new kits in January at Dyess AFB, Tex., and Ellsworth AFB, S.D., states the company’s release. The company expects to upgrade the entire B-1B fleet in three years, rolling out the final aircraft in 2015. Flight testing of the new instrumentation concluded last July.