The B-1B “Lancer”, known as “Bone” within the pilot community, is a multi-mission bomber, capable of carrying the largest payload of both guided and unguided weapons in the U.S. Air Force inventory.
It can accommodate up to 24 radar-evading AGM-158 Joint Air-Surface Stanfoff Missile (JASSM) in its bomb bays, twice as many as the B-52. . This GPS-guided cruise missiles with 2,250-lbs warhead, can be fired from more than 200 miles. However, the JASSM is about to be replaced, beginning next year, by a AGM-158B JASSM-ER (extended-range) that can reach a target 600 miles away.
Indeed, later this month, the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron is scheduled to complete the final-phase of operational testing on the autonomous, air-to-ground, precision-guided standoff missile which shares the same stealthy characteristics of the baseline JASSM, but with an improved range.
The additional reach allows the B-1 (that are being upgraded too) to employ JASSM-ER missiles against fortified, fixed and relocateable high-valuable targets, while remaining well clear of long-range surface-to-air missiles guarding well defended airspace. As those of Syria, Iran, North Korea, China.
The new missile uses its inertial navigation and GPS (global positioning systems) to find its target, and an infrared seeker for pinpoint accuracy right before impact. Noteworthy, the weapon is reported to be extremely jamming resistant and able to operate in “contested and degraded environments”.
[Read also: Upgraded 30,000-lb Massive Ordnance Penetrator bomb ready to destroy deeply buried bunkers in Iran, Syria etc.]
Although the final live flight test will be conducted on Aug. 30 with the B-1 (that is the premier aircraft to employ the new weapon), the JASSM-ER will be capable of employment on the B-2, B-52, F-15 and F-16.
Validation of the Bones capability to successfully perform long range strike missions using the AGM-158 JASSM was tested during Exercise “Chimichanga” in April, that included missions similar to one conducted in Libya in the early stages of Operation Odyssey Dawn.
Image credit: U.S. Air Force
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