Flight tests for a B-1 Lancer bomber upgraded with new digital
avionics for the aft cockpit, including a line-of-sight Link 16
data link, are underway according to a Monday news release from
Boeing. The B-1 Fully Integrated Data Link (FIDL) made its first
flight test on June 4 at Edwards Air Force Base, CA.
The four-hour flight was conducted by the U.S. Air Force around
the local Edwards test ranges. The crew successfully tested the
Link 16 data link by sending and receiving text messages and
receiving virtual mission assignment data such as target
coordinates for a weapon.
Link 16 adds line-of-sight capability to the B-1's existing
beyond line-of-sight Joint Range Extension Applications Protocol
(JREAP) data link, and integrates the JREAP data onto new,
full-color displays with intuitive symbols and moving maps.
"Link 16 will allow the B-1 to be an active participant in a
network that is commonly used by fighter, reconnaissance and
command-and-control aircraft," said Mark Angelo, B-1 program
manager for Boeing. "With Link 16, target coordinates can be sent
directly to the weapon system from ground troops or forward
operating bases, instead of the current method, where crew members
type the coordinates in by hand after hearing them over the
The program will conduct three flight tests this month.
Additional flight tests will take place through January 2011. The
entire Air Force fleet of 66 B-1s is expected to receive the FIDL