The 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas conducted a Sustainment Block-18 avionics software test during a US Strategic Command Bomber Task Force mission on January 11, 2022.
The unit also achieved long-range communications using the Joint Range Extender Applications protocol during the sortie into the Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility,
The mission was flown in conjunction with the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess AFB, and marks the first time a BTF sortie has been supported by operational test aircraft and crews.
As part of the Sensors Forward initiative, which uses updated software and processes to take advantage of the resident B-1 electronic warfare capability, Sustainment Block-18 is the next major avionics software update for the B-1 fleet.
Two of the key features of the avionics software update include simplified sensor control and targeting, as well as the relocation of many defense features to newer screens that improve situational awareness. During the mission, the profile demonstrated a number of efficiencies over the previous software.
“Flying for a duration of this duration is invaluable when it comes to stressing the software system,” said Major Matthew Sutton, 337th TES test director. “Prior to release, we had been testing in continental US ranges, but ideally we want to test an operational environment to see how far we can push the system.”
During the mission, the 337th TES integrated with the Dyess Live Mission Operations Center, which handles line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight communications to capture the user-friendliness of JREAP- A, on missions crossing certain AORs and at various latitudes.
By demonstrating connectivity at various mission points, bomber units were able to capture results for integration into crew academics and determine ease of use for crew strength and best practices for command and control of future long-duration missions.
“There is no better way to demonstrate that our tests are meeting the needs of the warfighter than by integrating the bomber’s OT mission directly into current operational tasks,” said Col. Jaime Hernandez, 753rd Test Group Commander and devaluation.
The 337th TES is a geographically separate unit of the 53rd Wing headquartered at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The 53rd Wing reports to the United States Air Force Warfare Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.