Here are two articles describing integration of the GBU-38 (500# JDAM) and the Sniper XR pod. Not discussed is the integration of Link-16 (TADL-J) around the same time the Sniper XR starts getting strapped on.
The GBU-38 integration is complete, and all we're doing is completing the test report so it can get fielded around Nov/Dec. My comments are in bold...
B-1B Bomber Adds GBU-38 and
Sniper XR Pod
Aviation Week & Space Technology
09/05/2005, page 58
William B. Scott
Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
New guided weapon and Sniper XR targeting pod expected to improve B-1B close air support
Printed headline: Better 'Bomb Truck'
U.S. Air Force Aeronautical Systems Command (ASC) is wrapping up operational tests that will validate a new precision-weapon capability for the B-1B bomber, enhancing its close-air-support effectiveness.
An integration program that began in December 2003 is adding the GBU-38 500-lb. Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) to the B-1B's list of employable weapons when fielded on bombers this fall. The program was initiated to minimize collateral damage during B-1B strikes, particularly in urban areas.
The need for a GPS-guided weapon having a smaller blast area was identified as a result of combat experience in Afghanistan and Iraq. During those operations, "there were targets . . . that had to be turned down, simply because there was too much risk in using a 2,000-lb. JDAM. In some [cases], the blast radius of a 2,000-pounder was just way too big," says Edward L. England, a Dynamics Research Corp. senior staff systems analyst supporting ASC's B-1 Conventional Weapons office
here. "The [GBU-38's] accuracy is as good as a 2,000-lb. JDAM, if not better," but causes less collateral damage.
The B-1B delivered about 9 million lb. of ordnance in Afghanistan, including roughly 4,000 JDAMs. During Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, the bomber dropped 2,159 JDAMs and hit 10% of all targets struck (while only flying less than 1% of all sorties). Its ability to carry a large, mixed load of weapons and loiter over a battlefield prompted its designation as a "JDAM truck."
However, those operations highlighted a need for two B-1B improvements: a smaller guided weapon to reduce the risk of collateral damage, and a better means to identify targets. "Since the B-1 really didn't have a good way to get a positive ID, they had to call in a fighter to visually ID a target before the B-1 could hit it. So, putting a targeting pod on theaircraft will give it that positive-ID capability, as well as a way to do bomb-damage assessment after a target has been hit," explains Eric Branum, ASC's conventional weapons program manager for the B-1B targeting pod.
"Adding a targeting pod and the GBU-38 have made significant to the B-1's CAS [close-air support] mission," he adds.
A Lockheed Martin Sniper XR targeting pod is being added to B-1B bombers, improving crews' ability to identify ground targets during close-air-support missions.Credit: BOEING
Under a "pre-Flight Test Development" (FTD) effort, a Lockheed Martin Sniper XR targeting pod is being mounted on a test B-1B at Edwards AFB, Calif. A 6-9-sortie test series next summer is aimed at accomplishing three objectives: a limited operational utility demonstration to confirm the Sniper pod can positively ID typical ground targets; aerodynamically qualify the pod and pylon structure, and develop a Start-3 Treaty-compliant modification to the B-1B's forward fuselage hardpoint. Under Start-3 nuclear-disarmament criteria, USAF must demonstrate that an air-launched cruise missile cannot be carried on that hardpoint.
Sniper XR imagery will be displayed on a laptop computer and the pod controlled via joystick from the Offensive Systems Operator position during pre-FTD flights, minimizing modifications to the aircraft. (The laptop gig is only for a demostration. The final pod setup will be completely integrated into the avionics and displays on the jet)
Integration of the GBU-38 was expedited by a major enhancement to the B-1B fleet--the Block E portion of its Conventional Munitions Upgrade Program. Block E involved rewriting the bomber's software, switching from the legacy Jovial language to ADA-95, and moving to a new weapon-delivery architecture. The upgrade enabled weapons to be added to the B-1B's armament suite, but without touching the core software.
"When we put th e GBU-38 on the aircraft, there really was no change to the internal software," England says. "[The aircraft] talks to the GBU-38 as if it were a 2,000-lb. [JDAM]. It really doesn't know the difference between a GBU-31 [2,000-lb. JDAM] and a -38." (not exactly true, but it's a simplified explanation)
Launchers designed to carry 10 conventional weapons in B-1B bomb bays are being modified to accommodate six GBU-38 500-lb. Joint Direct Attack Munitions. (with 3 launchers per jet = 18 GBU-38 per jet)
The Block E software upgrade proved its value during GBU-38 integration, cutting development and test time considerably. "Once you open up the core-avionics software, you're really challenged in terms of budget and time. Before Block E, something like this would have taken perhaps 4-5 years. [Instead,] it took about 1.5 years," he observes.
RATHER, HARDWARE became the primary integration challenge. The GBU-38 simply adds a GPS receiver and inertial-guidance tail kit and nose fins to a standard 500-lb. Mk. 82 bomb, which has mounting/carriage lugs 14 in. apart. The 2,000-lb. JDAM has 30-in. lug spacing. The Air Force wanted to carry up to 16 GBU-38s on a rotary launcher, but adapting the weapon to 30-in. lug spacing would have cost almost $80 million. (ultimately, the plan is to put a two weapon rack on each rotary launcher station, giving each launcher 16 weapons, for a total of 48 GBU-38 per jet...but that will be eclipsed when GBU-39's (Small Diameter Bomb) come online in 08-09, and we'll carry 96 per jet)
Instead, Boeing engineers developed a way to use the Seventeen-sixty Enhanced Conventional Bomb Module (SECBM), a Mil-Std 1760 bus-configured launcher system that allowed B-1Bs to carry wind-corrected munitions and cluster bomb dispensers. Both types have 14-in. lug spacing. Four GBU-38s could be accommodated without altering the SECBM, but two more could be added by simply recessing a few hexagonal-head bolts.
"That got us two more weapons on the [SECBM] launcher, giving us a full load-out of six GBU-38s," England explains.
Up to 64 SECBM "smart" launchers are being modified to carry the new 500-lb. JDAM, giving air operations planners and B-1B crews considerable mission flexibility. The bomber will be able to carry three different launchers with an array of weapons--a rotary launcher with GBU-31 2,000-lb. JDAMs in one bay; 28 Mk. 82 low-drag "dumb" bombs on a second launcher; and six GBU-38 500-lb. JDAMs in the third bay, for example.
Recessing six hex-head bolts provided additional upper-fin clearance, enabling the carriage of two more GBU-38s on the SECBM launcher.
The other two USAF bombers (the B-2 and B-52) "are stuck with one launcher and one weapon type," notes England. Now, the B-1B can carry and deliver whatever troops on the ground need--"a wind-corrected munition over here, a 500-lb. JDAM there, and a 2,000-lb. JDAM w over