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Largest B-1 mod in history set to begin

Lt. Col. Alejandro Gomez, 7th Operations Group deputy commander from Dyess AFB, Texas, relived some of his B-1 mission experiences for Tinker personnel Nov. 15. Colonel Gomez spoke in a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Technology Center hangar filled with the first  B-1 bomber here to undergo modification work updating the fleet from 1980s-era technology. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Lt. Col. Alejandro Gomez, 7th Operations Group deputy commander from Dyess AFB, Texas, relived some of his B-1 mission experiences for Tinker personnel Nov. 15. Colonel Gomez spoke in a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Technology Center hangar filled with the first B-1 bomber here to undergo modification work updating the fleet from 1980s-era technology. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Making the B-1 Lancer "badder to the bone" begins Nov. 26. Officials announced the news with a kickoff event Nov. 15 at a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Technology Center hangar in Oklahoma City.

The Integrated Battle Station, or IBS, modification will modernize three of the aircraft's capabilities and is considered the largest modification in B-1 history. Personnel from the 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group will perform the physical labor while Air Force Lifecycle Management Center staff from Tinker and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, will support, oversee and address engineering and programming issues. The first aircraft arrived here Sept. 13 from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

"What we're doing here matters," said Brig. Gen. Gene Kirkland, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex commander. "And this is also an opportunity to demonstrate great teamwork with industry and our system program office ... this is good business. Tinker is the right place to do it and this is the right methodology to get it done."

The modification will install the fully-integrated data link, or FIDL, and vertical situation displays upgrade, or VSDU; as well as improve the central integrated test system, or CITS. The data link will allow the air crew to speak and communicate with troops in a joint theater, regardless if they are on the ground or at sea.

The upgrade of the CITS will replace obsolete components and provide the B-1 flight crews and maintenance personnel with sustainable, highly reliable fault diagnostic and fault isolation system.

"Kicking this off, we're asking the maintenance team to do something that has never been done before. All three of the modifications that make up the integrated battle station have been done, but they have been done separately," said Col. Mike Senseney, AFLCMC Fighters and Bombers Directorate B-1 Division system program manager. "I'm confident the OC-ALC B-1 team can meet the challenge given the recent record-setting performance on B-1 programmed depot maintenance and the thorough planning conducted to prepare for IBS."

The Air Force has spent more than seven years planning this project. Through the planning and prototyping phase, the effort has been led by the B-1 Development Systems Manager office at Wright-Patterson AFB. Development began when commercial and military engineers discussed Air Combat Command requirements and constraints. They worked out a technical plan. Once the requirement was defined, officials discussed funding and scheduling. The B-1 Program Office at Wright-Patterson AFB contracted with Boeing to prototype and tests each modification separately, and to deliver production kits. After completion of the first IBS install, management of the program will transition fully to the B-1 division here at Tinker.

The IBS team has set aside 300 days to complete the "kit-proof" modification. As the kit-proof modification progresses, the team will review the lessons learned and adjust procedures as required to ensure future installations are streamlined and overall required modification time is reduced.

"I know I'm excited and the Boeing team is very excited that we're at this stage here in the program beginning the mod to the aircraft," said Rick Greenwell, B-1 Program director for Boeing. "It's been a long while for the birthing of these three mods and took a lot of development effort to get where we are at today. But, now we're ready for the development and to get these planes into the hands of the warfighter."

It is estimated the modification will cost approximately $975 million and will take roughly eight years to complete the transformation of 61 aircraft. The fleet has 63 aircraft, but two have already received the alterations. Three aircraft were retired at the end of September.
At any given time, Tinker has five to six B-1s already on base for programmed depot maintenance. Through this program, up to eight additional aircraft will be here.