USAF unleashes the BEAST with new B-1B upgrade package

One of the USAF’s two supersonic-capable B-1B Lancer strategic bomber wings – the 7th Bomb Wing (BW) at Dyess AFB in Texas – is pioneering a package that will modernise the fleet much faster than would have otherwise been possible.

The B-1 Embracing Agile Scheduling Team (BEAST) programme adds an updated defensive avionics system; upgraded secure communications systems; a modernised identification friend-or-foe (IFF) system; a Link-16 tactical data communications capability and updated mass data storage to the B-1B fleet. The BEAST package takes an average of 22 days to incorporate, taking two years off the normal upgrade timeline. Some 22 more B-1Bs at Dyess will undergo the modernisation process one at a time over the next two years.

A B-1B Lancer assigned to the 7th BW at Dyess AFB, Texas, departs Nellis AFB, Nevada, for a Weapons School Integration (WSINT) mission on November 28, 2022. Dyess has completed the B-1B’s first BEAST upgrade, which will modernize the bomber’s IFF system, communications systems and defensive avionics systems, among other things.
A B-1B Lancer assigned to the 7th BW at Dyess AFB, Texas, departs Nellis AFB, Nevada, for a Weapons School Integration (WSINT) mission on November 28, 2022. Dyess has completed the B-1B’s first BEAST upgrade, which will modernize the bomber’s IFF system, communications systems and defensive avionics systems, among other things. USAF/Airman 1st Class Josey Blades

The upgrade is being integrated by a team that includes a contractor field team hired specifically for the project, working in tandem with technicians from Dyess’ own 7th Maintenance Group, and personnel from Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) and the 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma, where the B-1Bs receive their regular, scheduled depot-level maintenance.

Future BEAST upgrades will be modified during scheduled Programmed Depot Maintenance at Tinker AFB and also at both of the USAF’s main B-1B Lancer operating locations: Dyess AFB and Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota. The first upgraded aircraft completed its initial post-modernisation flight on September 8.