Presence of the B-1B Lancer, long-range strategic bomber also represents the strengthening US-India defence cooperation
Among the highlights of Aero India 2021 is the fly-past of the B-1B Lancer, long-range strategic bomber of the United States Air Force (USAF). This platform was commissioned into service with the USAF since 1985 and is expected to continue to be in the frontline service till around 2040.
SUPERSONIC LONG-RANGE BOMBER
The B-1B Lancer is a supersonic long-range, multi-mission, heavy bomber that was originally designed to deliver nuclear weapons. However, in the mid-1990s, the B-1B switched to an exclusively conventional combat role. In its history of service over the last three and a half decades, the B-1B Lancer has taken part in a number of missions including Operation Allied Force - an air war against Serbia initiated in March 1999 by NATO, and Operation Enduring Freedom - a global war initiated in October 2001 by the US government against terrorism. This platform was nearly continuously deployed in combat operations over Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.
Since the time, the B-1B Lancer entered service, the platform has continually evolved to meet with the demands of a rapidly changing battlefield including a trio of upgrades known as the Integrated Battle Station (IBS). IBS integrates three major aircraft modifications: a new front and aft flight deck, a new diagnostics system and a new data link. These upgrades include the installation of fully digital cockpit displays which enhances situational awareness and communications for air crew as also improve the aircraft’s performance. Boeing is also partnering with the US Air Force to conduct full-scale fatigue testing on the fuselage and expand the aircraft’s capacity to carry crucial hypersonic weapons. According to the programme leaders, these combined enhancements will ensure that the B-1B Lancer fleet becomes a far more effective global strike platform as well as remains ready, relevant and viable for strike missions across the globe.
FIRST TO FLY SUPERSONIC WITH SYNTHETIC FUEL
The B-1B Lancer became the first aircraft to fly at supersonic speed using synthetic fuel in March 2008. The fuel was a 50/50 blend of conventional JP-8 petroleum and a synthetic fuel derived from natural gas using the Fischer-Tropsch process. The flight was part of an ongoing programme of the US Air Force to certify the alternative fuel for all of their aircraft in service.
CARRIES A MESSAGE FROM U.S.
Presence of the B-1B Lancer at the Aero India 2021 Air Show represents far more than mere participation of an American military platform as it carries a message from the US Government to the world. As per Don Heflin, US Charge d’Affaires, who is leading a high-level delegation, to the Air Show, of officials from the US Government as well as representatives of the US defence industry, participation in the air show by the US is an example of the deepening defence and strategic partnership between India and the US. “I am pleased to head the US delegation to the Aero India Air Show this year as it reflects our continued commitment to strengthening US-India defence cooperation, in line with India’s status as a Major Defence Partner,” said Don Heflin.