53rd Wing tests avionics software update during Bomber Task Force sortie

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt Lindsey Heflin
  • 53rd Wing
The 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron completed a test of the Sustainment Block-18 avionics software and achieved long-range communications utilizing Joint Range Extension Applications Protocol–A during a U.S. Strategic Command Bomber Task Force mission in the Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility, Jan. 11, 2022.
The mission was flown in conjunction with the 7th Bomb Wing, and marks the first time a BTF sortie was supported by Operational Test aircraft and aircrew.
As part of the Sensors Forward initiative which uses updated software and processes to leverage resident B-1 Electronic Warfare capability, Sustainment Block-18 is the next major avionics software update for the B-1 fleet.
Two of the primary features of the avionics software update include simplified sensor control and targeting, as well as re-hosting many of the defense features on newer displays that improve situational awareness. During the mission, the profile demonstrated a number of efficiencies compared to the previous software.
“Flying for a duration of this length is invaluable when it comes to stressing the software system,” said Maj. Matthew Sutton, 337th TES test director. “Prior to the sortie we had executed tests at continental U.S. ranges, but ideally we want to test an operational environment so we can see just how far we can push the system.”  
During the bilateral BTF mission the 337th TES integrated with the Dyess Air Force Base Live Mission Operation Center who handles the line of sight and beyond line of sight communications in order to capture the usability of JREAP-A, a beyond line of sight datalink across satellites, on missions crossing certain AOR’s and at various latitudes.
By demonstrating connectivity to the 608th and 613th Air Operations Centers throughout various points on the mission, the 337th TES and 7th Bomb Wing were able to capture the results for integration into aircrew academics and determine usability for the crew force and best practices for future long-duration mission command and control.
“There’s no better way to demonstrate that our tests are meeting the needs of the warfighter than by integrating the bomber OT mission directly with current operational taskings,” said Col. Jaime Hernandez, 753rd Test and Evaluation Group commander.
BTF sorties support national security objectives through the speed, flexibility, and readiness of our strategic bombers. The objectives accomplished during the 337th TES operational mission align with Gen. Anthony Cotton’s strategic vision for Air Force Global Strike Command: balance sustaining today’s force while modernizing for tomorrow.  
By continuing to test in high-end operational environments and providing key data points that achieves decision advantage, the 53rd Wing will continue to do its part in ensuring the lethality of all bombers and equipping the warfighter for tomorrow’s fight.
 For more information, contact 1st Lt Lindsey Heflin, Public Affairs Advisor for the 53rd Wing at 850-598-3283 or lindsey.heflin.1@us.af.mil.
The 53rd Wing provides tactical advantage to the warfighter at the speed of relevance. By testing new operational capabilities and evaluating fielded capabilities, the 53rd Wing is bringing the future faster while answering the warfighter’s demands for integrated, multi-domain capabilities.