AF makes quick work of patch to B-1 software
- By Frank Tiboni
- Apr 26, 1999
The Air Force equipped its storied B-1 bombers with new radar-tracking software
in less than four daysa task that usually takes monthsso the service could use
the aircraft for NATOs Operation Allied Force in Yugoslavia.
The 53rd Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., spearheaded the effort late last month to
build what the service calls Emitter Identification Data files that give the B-1 Lancer
bomber situation awareness, said 1st Lt. Victor Falsone, a B-1 defensive systems test
engineer in the 36th Engineering and Testing Squadron at Eglin.
The files contain new radar-tracking software that lets each bombers four-person
crew identify and counter enemy radar, said Lt. Lou Martucci, an operations officer in the
The new software has increased capabilities that the theater commanders were
interested in, enhanced defensive capabilities as well as new weapons capabilities,
Martucci said. To meet the dates they wanted, the electronic warfare mission data
had to be done very quickly and optimizations made to the defensive systems.
Citing operational security, the Air Force would not discuss how the software
identifies and counters the Yugoslavian Armys radar. The Air Force also would not
discuss the B-1s new weapons capability, said John Hernandez, a civilian B-1
defensive systems engineer in the 36th ETS.
In November, the Air Force successfully tested the Joint Direct Attack Munition tail
kits on the B-1. JDAM gives the 1980s-era bombers smart-bomb capability by refitting bombs
with a new tail fin that uses the Global Positioning System to more accurately hit
targets, said Tech Sgt. Armon Gaddy at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.
JDAM will not be fully operational until this summer, but that would not preclude its
use in the Kosovo crisis, Gaddy said.
The Air Combat Command, which controls all fighter bombers in the country from Langley
Air Force Base, Va., called the 53rd Wing on March 26 and requested the retrofitting of
the B-1s, Hernandez said.
NATO commanders asked the command to ready the B-1s for missions in Kosovo, said Lt.
Col. Dewey Ford, the Air Combat Commands spokesman.
The B-1 brings with it particular capabilities that made it an ideal weapon for
the situation in Kosovo, Ford said. The capabilities are the weapons it
carries, its range and its ability to carry a large payload.
The $200 million B-1, built by Rockwell International Corp. to carry nuclear weapons
during the Cold War, flew its first combat missions on Dec. 1 during Operation Desert Fox,
dropping bombs over Iraq.
Before the B-1 could join Operation Allied Force, it underwent a regular cycle upgrade.
The upgrade included new software and equipment for optimum performance, and better
offensive and defensive capabilities, Hernandez said.
It took Eglin less than 100 hours to get the B-1s ready to fly, he said.
Air Force engineers and civilian contract staff from Boeing Co., Raytheon Co. and AIL
Systems Inc. of Deer Park, N.Y., began writing new mission data software on March 26. The
team used custom Emitter Reprogramming Software to create the EID database, Falsone said.
The database is used to identify what [radar] emitters are active and display
them to the air crew for situation awareness, he said. It will also apply the
appropriate jamming technique to provide self-protection to the aircraft.
The 36th ETS began testing the software on March 27 and completed testing the
morning of March 29.
The squadron completed the independent verification and validation at Eglin that
afternoon, Falsone said.
The 53rd Test and Evaluation Groups Detachment 2 piloted a B-1 from Ellsworth for
a flight test at Eglin on Floridas panhandle the evening of March 30, he said.
Representatives from the 53rd Wing then flew to Ellsworth to brief crews and assist in
the software installation. The wing posted the software update on the Air Forces
classified electronic bulletin board system so Ellsworth could upload the files, Hernandez
Two B-1s, deployed to Royal Air Force Base in Fairford, England, first saw action in
Operation Allied Force when they dropped bombs over Serbian military targets in Kosovo on
The Air Force has deployed five B-1 bombers from Ellsworth to Yugoslavia, Hernandez