April 21, 2006 In terms of sheer firepower, there’s nothing that can match the U.S. Air Force's fleet of 67 B-1B long-range bomber aircraft. Carrying the largest payload of both guided and unguided weapons of any aircraft, the multi-mission B-1 can rapidly deliver massive quantities of precision and non-precision weapons, anywhere in the world at Mach 1.2. Each aircraft originally cost US$283 million, but the attention, fettling and long term improvement program costs would dwarf that figure. Each aircraft weighs is capable of carrying around 1.5 times its own weight in bombs for a total take-off weight of 216,634 kilograms.
An aircraft commander, copilot, and two weapon systems officers are responsible for delivering a lethal cocktail mixed from the contents of its massive reconfigurable weapons bays. It can pack 24 GBU-31 GPS-aided JDAM (both Mk-84 general purpose bombs and BLU-109 penetrating bombs) or 24 Mk-84 2,000-pound general purpose bombs; 8 Mk-85 naval mines; 84 Mk-82 500-pound general purpose bombs; 84 Mk-62 500-pound naval mines; 30 CBU-87, -89, -97 cluster munitions; 30 CBU-103/104/105 WCMD, 24 AGM-158 JASSMs or 12 AGM-154 JSOWs. The latest US$180 million Reliability and Maintainability Improvement Program (RMIP) upgrade will make the fire control of this arsenal more accurate
The RMIP kit, built principally for Boeing by subcontractor Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, comprises a new radar transmitter/receiver, a radar processor computer and a translated, rehosted software package.
"The RMIP kit will increase the radar system's reliability and substantially improve the B-1's combat readiness," said Kurt Eberhart, manager of Boeing's B-1 radar program in Long Beach, Calif. "Current and future missions depend heavily on the aircraft's ability to find and track targets, so this modification to the synthetic aperture radar is critical."
John C. Johnson, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems division, added, "Although the AN/APQ-164 radar has successfully provided target detection, location tracking and accurate weapon delivery since 1985, the RMIP will improve reliability threefold, resolve the problem of diminishing manufacturing sources and keep the B-1 mission-capable."