Not Just a Bomber

With the addition of the Sniper targeting pod, the B-1B bomber has become a versatile, multi-role platform in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Before the introduction of the Sniper on the aircraft last year, the B-1 was known primarily as a bomber and had to rely mostly on “extremely accurate coordinates” from offboard sensors to engage targets, said Lt. Col. Jen Fullmer, commander of the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, a B-1 unit that operates out of an air base in Southwest Asia. Now equipped with Sniper, B-1 aircrews can generate their own highly accurate coordinates and use them to attack a target or pass them to other strike platforms, she said. And, the bomber is “now heavily engaged in missions such as [improvised explosive device] emplacement search, convoy support, and armed overwatch of friendly positions,” Fullmer said. The B-1-Sniper tandem was first used in combat last August. The enemy is not unaware of the aircraft’s increased prowess, as sometimes just its arrival over the scene of a ground skirmish will cause the enemy to disengage. (379th AEW report by SrA. Brok McCarthy)