WASHINGTON - Late last month, the US Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) and the Air Force’s 412th Test Wing joined defense industry partners to showcase the B-1B Lancer bomber’s expanded capabilities, which allow the aircraft to both carry hypersonic missiles and stay compliant with the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).
On August 28, the US Air Force held a demonstration for industry partners to reveal two potential expansions to the B-1B Lancer: external carriage and an extended weapons bay.
AFGSC Lt. Col. Dominic Ross, the B-1B program’s element monitor, explained to The Drive that the B-1B, which was originally designed decades ago to carry nuclear warheads, has a movable bulkhead that can be shifted by the crew without making permanent changes to the aircraft.
“Currently we can carry 24 weapons internally, now it can be increased to potentially 40 based on what type of pylon we would create,” Ross said. “This gets the B-1 into the larger weapons, the 5,000 pounders. It gets it into the hypersonics game as well.”
According to the AFGSC, the modification would only take a few work shifts to equip the long-range bomber to carry hypersonic missiles.
“It would allow us to more efficiently plan for targeting and use fewer aircraft with fewer aircrews in harm’s way to strike the same number of targets,” Col. Richard Barksdale told The Drive. He also explained that this would reduce the amount of support aircraft needed.
Ross asserted that the military would only use these developments and potential modifications for conventional warfare, to remain compliant with New START.
"The New START nuclear agreement, which was ratified in 2010, was flawed from the beginning. It did not cover short-range tactical nuclear weapons or new Russian delivery systems.
It is due to expire in February 2021, and while no decision has been made, it is unlikely to be extended. Why extend the flawed system just to say you have a treaty?" Bolton said during a speech to attendees of the 41st annual National Conservative Student Conference. -Sputnik