The U.S. Air Force has found a way to mount a launcher used on the B-52 Stratofortress onto the B-1 Lancer, giving the supersonic jet bomber a new level of lethality.
According to Defense News, the Air Force demonstrated in August that by simply shifting the position of a bulkhead, the B-1 would be capable of fitting a Conventional Rotary Launcher in its bomb bay.
The Conventional Rotary Launcher is a system now used in the legendary B-52 bomber. It gives the aircraft unrivaled flexibility and firepower, allowing crew members to select from up to eight different munitions.
On a massive strategic bomber like the B-52, this is a powerful upgrade.
When added to a supersonic aircraft like the B-1, it could be a game-changer.
Lt. Col. Dominic Ross, the chief of B-1 requirements and director of strategic plans, programs and requirements for Air Force Global Strike Command, expanded on the new possibilities this pairing opens.
“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 in a news release.
“This gets the B-1 into the larger weapons, the 5,000 pounders,” he said. “It gets it into the hypersonics game as well.”
For a weapon to be considered hypersonic, it has to travel at least Mach 5 — five times faster than the speed of sound.
At these speeds, many weapons aren’t even built with explosives. Kinetic energy alone results in an explosion big enough to do the intended amount of damage.
It’s not hard to see how eight of these hypersonic weapons fired from an already supersonic jet could be a massive boon to U.S. airpower. Forget about bad guys not hearing the boom — they won’t even see the missile before they’re vaporized.
While this gives our arsenal a major boost against other world powers, these capabilities will come in handy with precision strikes against nonconventional enemies.
Terrorists not only have nowhere to hide, but they also have nowhere to run when facing these weapons.
Our military also has many more options for strikes deep in North Korean or Iranian territory with a setup like the proposed change to the B-1.
At the end of the day, a first-rate military isn’t about who has the biggest weapons. A flexible force capable of projecting power to the darkest corners of the world is what will win the day in the future.
And with this new proposed modification to the B-1, it’s looking like America will keep its military edge.
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