Upgraded B-1B Lancers flew the first long-range strike exercise with their new cockpits and targeting systems in late February, Air Force Global Strike Command announced on March 2. B-1s and crews from Dyess AFB, Texas, tested the Block 16 upgrades on six B-1s by flying a 15-hour flight to the Yukon Range in Alaska. “This exercise proved that the B-1 fleet is now capable of deploying and employing Block 16 aircraft to provide a global strike presence within hours of being tasked,” Capt. Ryan Stillwell, 7th Bomb Wing weapons officer, said in a release. The exercise also ensured the upgraded BONES are ready for long-duration missions, said Lt. Col. Luke Baker, 7th Bomb Wing director of inspections. B-1s recently returned from the US Central Command area of responsibility to receive the upgrades, marking the first time since 2001 that Lancers are not based in the Middle East. The upgrades include the Vertical Situation Display, which adds a digital cockpit, a Fully Integrated Data Link for targeting and command and control, and a Central Integrated Test System for real-time diagnostics. The 7th Bomb Wing received the first upgraded B-1 in 2014.
Robins Air Force Base, Ga., has completed two environmental reviews, clearing the way for new construction to support the bases four new missions sets, which will replace the E-8 Joint STARS mission that has defined the base for decades.