2017-07-24 Jaryd Stock has been providing coverage of Talisman Saber 2017. In his latest posting on Aviation Photography Digest provided a look at the role of the B-1 bomber in the exercise.
“The four B-1B Lancers assigned to the ‘Bats’ deployed to Guam have been upgraded to the Block 16 Integrated Battle Station which see’s the cockpit and operator station receive upgrades.
“Along with the multi function displays and digital flight instrument and various map and sensor upgrades, the B-1s also are now capable of connecting into Link-16 networks.
“Which now allow the aircraft and crew to send and receive messages, imagery, mission assignments including external target information.
“The ‘Bats’ are the first B-1 squadron deployed with the Integrated Battle Station.”
For how the B-1B has been used in the exercise, see the rest of the article.
Given the importance of the bomber and its use in the Pacific, it would make sense to accelerate the new bomber program.
The Mitchell Institute published a report in 2015 arguing the case for the bomber and certainly highlighted why accelerating the program is part of the shift to preparation for higher intensity operations, certainly evident in the Pacific.
While the importance of the new bomber, or LRSS, in supporting US national security grows, the current US bomber fleet continues to age.
It now averages 39 years of age.
The B-52Hs and B-1Bs, with service lives extending to the 2040 time frame, can continue to offer important contributions, but their survivability when operating in contested airspace grows more questionable each year.
The nation’s 20 B-2As have a projected service life out to 2058 and provide important capabilities for decades to come, but the small fleet size limits their potential contribution.
To maintain the nation’s long-range power projection capabilities, the Pentagon has concluded it needs to begin now on developing and fielding a new bomber.