DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
"Leading a B-1 bomber wing with a long range strike mission is about managing aircraft, Airmen, logistics and technology," according to Col. Joseph Kramer 7th Bomb Wing commander.
The B-1 is the most lethal jet made. It can carry 24 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), four more than its legacy father, the B-52. Initially, the B-1 was set to replace the B-52 but when the B-52 became a standoff cruise missile launch platform it was given new life and an extended role as a deterrent weapon.
Col. Kramer explained the five historical phases of the B-1's tactical role. "It was initially designed to carry nuclear weapons. It would approach its target at low level then pop up to a designated attitude and drop its payload. Its stealth and speed would be a major factor using this tactic.”
"Its second phase would be the traditional tactic of dropping conventional bombs that weren't very precise.”
"In its third phase, the B-1 it employed 2,000 pound guided bombs that landed within 10's of feet of its target."
"In its fourth phase, which was very effective in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of operations, the B-1 carried an advanced targeting pod that permitted it to loiter overhead and strike individual vehicles with precision.
"In its fifth and current phase of operations, the B-1 can launch guided cruise missiles like the long range guided anti-ship missile (LRASM) hundreds of miles from its target and strike it with precision.”
"The last phase will facilitate the transition to the new B-21 Raider in the near future,” according to Col. Kramer.
"With respect to the Airmen that support the B-1 mission," Col. Kramer continued, "there are two important aspects to managing these vital components of the mission. First, continuous organizational training and second, creating the war fighter culture and linking purpose to mission by banging the drum and using a large megaphone”.
“The mission is changing. The B-1 may fight a future war from its home base. The B-1 could fly from Dyess to its target, return to Dyess and turn around to prepare to fly another mission.”
Col. Kramer continued, "During the transition to the B-21, we will sustain the B-1 fleet.
But it's a 30-year plus weapons system which means training sorties are precious for aviators. The goal is four sorties a month plus additional hours in the flight simulator practicing emergency situations. We are bringing on new training using virtual reality.
"Aircraft maintainers must have one training day a month at each level of expertise; 3 level basic, 5 level journeyman and 7 level Subject Matter Expert, supervisor and leader. The training days also apply to munitions, fuels and defender specialties," Col. Kramer added.
"As far as technology is concerned, innovation is a major driver. Our Airmen are constantly finding ways to improve efficiency, increase productivity and reduce cost. One example is Project BAMA, a recently approved a new piece of equipment that reduces the time to load the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile AGM-158s on the B-1. It is called the Bomber Aluminum-Rail-Set Multipurpose Adapter (BAMA)."
The 7th BW Weapons Standardization Section came up with the idea to place the missiles on aluminum rails on a trailer to reduce the need for two bomb lifts. The BAMA was constructed by engineers at Eglin Air Force Base and delivered to Dyess for testing, evaluation and validation in January 2022. The test was successful. As a result, the BAMA will be mass produced by Air Material Command engineers at Eglin in July 2022. The 7th Bomb Wing and the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base will each get 12 BAMAs.
In addressing readiness, Col. Kramer said, "Increased readiness includes participation in Red Flag exercises at Nellis AFB, and Bomber Task Force missions to achieve operational effectiveness. BTF's also provide messaging to adversaries, integration with allied air forces and demonstration that the 7th Bomb Wing can fight from Dyess.
In reference to the future, Col. Kramer added, "The new force generation construct is built around Reset, Prepare, Ready and Available, that is the bridge to the future. As far as posture is concerned, what does the wing have to do for deployment or contingencies? To generate aircraft tasking. That means under Reset, there is heavy maintenance, under Prepare, the inflow of new and younger aviators have to be trained, under Ready, the wing must be able to generate aircraft before commitment, and under Available, the wing has to commit aircraft.”
"Bombers are ready to deploy from the Dyess runway, complete its mission and return to Dyess to rearm. This is true today as it will be in the future,” Col. Kramer said.