New software targets Air Force bombers' accuracy

B-1s will be able to better identify and strike stationary and moving objects

Boeing Co. has won a $23 million contract to upgrade software on Air Force bombers that will improve their targeting capabilities.

Phase 2 of the B-1 Laptop Controlled Targeting Pod software upgrade will add additional capability to the aircraft’s targeting system by allowing it to more accurately identify both stationary and moving targets, according to a company statement issued today.

In April, Boeing completed phase 1, a $28 million development program that resulted in 40 of the Air Force’s 66 B-1s being outfitted with software and hardware that allow the aircraft to use the 15 interchangeable Sniper pods and the associated laptops assigned to the fleet.

Phase 2 will complete the integration of the Sniper pod with B-1 software to deliver single-moving-target kill capability using the Guided Bomb Unit-54 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition (Laser JDAM), Boeing officials said.

Laser JDAM adds a precision laser guidance set to the standard JDAM tail kit to find, track and engage mobile targets. The Air Force fielded the Laser JDAM in May 2008 and has used it successfully in combat, the officials said.

An additional improvement will enable the targeting pod to find stationary targets and automatically send their GPS coordinates to the weapons from the B-1 avionics system, removing the need to enter the coordinates manually. That will reduce response time and the potential for error, they added.

Boeing will begin the design and development of the phase 2 software immediately. The software is expected to begin testing in February 2011.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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