On Sept. 4, the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron sent a solo B-1B over the Gulf of Mexico and its sea ranges to prove the concept that Lancers (or “Bones” as the swing wing bombers are dubbed) can be used to attack surface targets whilst at sea; in other words, the goal of the mission was to assess and improve the B-1’s capabilities.
According to the Dyess AFB website the B-1 released six munitions, including a 500lb GBU-54 laser guided bomb as well as 500lb and 2000lb joint direct attack munitions (JDAM).
Lt. Col. Alejandro Gomez, 337th TES special projects officer said: “This evaluation solidifies what our crew members have already known: We can strike surface targets. The knowledge we gain from these events gives combatant commanders assurance that we can be called upon to complete the mission.”
The mission, called a “a maritime tactics development and evaluation” or TD&E ,saw the B-1 being given the goal of detect, target and engage small boats using currently fielded and available weapons, released in all weather conditions.
The dramatic photo in this post was taken during the mission and shows that the B-1 was very effective in doing its goals: the term “using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut” springs to mind as the GBU-10 is captured a split second before annihilating a small rigid hulled boat.
The Bone would give a group of Pirates a very bad day!
Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com
Image credit: U.S. Air Force
The old adage “Millions for defense – not one red cent for tribute” still holds true. Perhaps a modified version applies here – “Millions for defense and millions more to protect just one of our men – not one of yours red cent’d boats, trucks, tanks, or whatever you try to hide in will survive because we have more money than you have cheap mud huts”
Hm. I look at this picture and see an inert (no explosive) 500lb bomb casing (you can tell because it’s blue) with a laser targeting head and GPS tail section with fins and control actuators. The second picture is the splash (not explosion) of the bomb penetrating the small boat. It’s an excellent demonstration of guidance accuracy. At $27K per kit, plus the bomb, it’s cheep guided munitions.
From the wake visible in the right half of both pictures, it looks to me like the target boat made a sudden evasive 180-degree manuever, too. Nice try…