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By 7th Maintenance Group
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The 7th Bomb Wing’s first B-1 Embracing Agile Scheduling Team modified B-1B Lancer took its first flight September 8, 2023, from Dyess Air Force Base marking a new era of lethality for the venerable aircraft.
BEAST was designed to shorten fielding of each system, preserve aircraft availability and ensure compliance with federal government aviation directives.
“BEAST modernizes the aircraft’s avionics systems and gives it life and lethality out to 2040 and beyond,” said Col. Joshua Pope, 7th Maintenance Group commander. “I was on the Air Force Global Strike Command staff when the project started just a short time ago, so to be here now watching it is a truly impressive feat of innovation, scheduling and teamwork between the maintenance groups, the command, and the B-1B System Program Office. This truly is an all-in team effort.”
The modifications are designed to modernize the aircraft’s Identification Friend or Foe system, provide Link 16 tactical data communications capability and upgrade secure communications systems. The program also updates the aircraft’s defensive avionics system and updates its mass data storage for today’s digital environment.
“BEAST significantly enhances the lethality of the B-1B, surpassing its current capabilities,” said Col. Dan Alford, 7th Operations Group commander. “Our aircrew are excited to get their hands on this new technology that will reduce their workload and allow them to focus on combat employment of the weapon system itself.”
By collaborating with the B-1B System Program Office and the 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group, the B-1Bs will be modified during scheduled Programmed Depot Maintenance at Tinker AFB and at each main operating location - Dyess AFB and Ellsworth AFB.
“This method allows for the shortest completion time while giving each bomb wing flexibility to schedule their aircraft for modification according to their aircraft availability requirements,” said Pope. “It is the best for all organizations and ensures the B-1B is ready to fight from here.”
This modified B-1B is the first of 23 that will undergo modification at Dyess by a contract field team hired specifically for this modification. Under the current construct, all 7th BW aircraft will be completed according to plan and ready for immediate deployment, if called upon.