With the B-52 getting deep upgrades that will take years to accomplish, the B-1 fleet is stepping into the role with the help of a new pylon.
The B-1B bomber is set to become a key testbed for supporting U.S. Air Force hypersonic weapon development, according to Boeing. The company says a new external pylon design, rated for payloads weighing up to 7,500 pounds, will help the aircraft in this role. This all comes as the Air Force is pushing ahead with work on an air-breathing hypersonic cruise missile, which is, in part, leveraging ongoing testing of Boeing's own experimental HyFly 2 design.
Boeing provided the details about the B-1B's future place in the Air Force's larger hypersonic testing ecosystem and a look at its new Load Adaptable Modular (LAM) pylon to journalists during a recent media event at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, according to Air & Space Forces Magazine. The company has previously talked about hypersonic weapon test plans in relation to the B-1B. However, at that time, this appear to be more focused on future operational capabilities rather than a focus on supporting research and development and test and evaluation activities.
"The whole point of this … is for the B-1 to become the hypersonic testbed for the Air Force," Jennifer Wong, head of bomber programs at Boeing, said during the recent press tour at Tinker, according to Air & Space Forces Magazine. “Because of all the modernization efforts on the B-52, we can actually not take away from what we’re doing on the B-52 today to have it test hypersonics."