B-1B #86-0136 of the 377th TES flies a test sortie on
the Edwards range for the Sniper Targeting Pod 5/16/08
Photo: USAF / Jet Fabara
6/4/2008 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, CA -- The Edwards Global
Power Bomber Combined Test Force and the 337th Test and Evaluation
Squadron from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, combined the operational
and developmental test of a B-1B Lancer here to accelerate the
bomber's sniper pod program.
With the accelerated testing cutting the length of the program
from nine months down to three, the B-1 sniper pod is expected
to be operational as early as this summer.
"This has been the first time that we have brought (a
force developmental evaluation) squadron here," said Lt.
Col. Troy Asher, Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force director
and 419th Flight Test Squadron commander. "We have done
all flavors of testing here at the same time in the span of
about two weeks, which was originally planned for two months.
We have knocked out over half of the force developmental evaluation.
We have been able to take data from their (operational) testing,
and they have been able to take data from our (developmental)
testing. It has just been phenomenal."
Typically, the Global Power Bomber CTF performs the developmental
testing on a system as well as the initial stages of operational
testing because Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center
is part of the CTF. At the end of every program, the B-1 would
be sent back to Air Combat Command for force developmental evaluation,
the final part of operational testing in which they develop
tactics and training procedures.
"Developmental test and operational test have different
perspectives on what each wants to get out of a test program,"
said Lt. Col. Christopher Brunner, 337th TES commander. "We
have to be smart and mesh each other's objectives together to
ensure not only the system under test is safe and has no major
deficiencies, but also it is operationally effective and relevant
for the warfighter."
"The targeting pod is probably one of the most significant
upgrades to the B-1," said Capt. Brandon Miller, B-1 flight
commander and 419th FLTS targeting pod project pilot. "This
is significantly going to decrease the time from a request for
a bomb on a target, to actually dropping a weapon, creating
the desired lethal effects and then being able to assess and
re-attack if necessary."
For more than four years, the B-1 has been the workhorse of
the weapons delivery both in Iraq and in Afghanistan, Colonel
"A lot of times, we are not allowed to drop on targets
because we are not exactly sure we wouldn't hit friendlies,
or we might hit something we are not supposed to hit,"
The Sniper Pod seen mounted on B-1B #86-0136 of the 377th
TES while testing at Edwards AFB, CA 5/2/08
Photo: USAF / Jet Fabara
"With the pod, we can cross check coordinates and visually
determine and correlate the target we want to strike,"
said Maj. Joshua Lane, 419th FLTS flight test weapons systems
officer and assistant director of operations. "The rules
of engagement and the instructions in theater are very robust
to prevent an aircrew from bombing the wrong target. There's
a very deliberate chain that has to be followed. Adding the
target identification capability to the chain gives us the level
of security we need to accurately strike targets."
Moreover, through the video downlink on the pod, the new system
can provide instantaneous feedback to the joint terminal attack
controller, Colonel Brunner said.
"It's very important to remember that this also benefits
the warfighter on the ground that the B-1 is supporting,"
Colonel Asher said. "They are our 'customers' who we are
ultimately serving, and anything we can do to get bombs on target
quicker, the better."
Combining the developmental and operational tests puts a large
strain on the team, the colonel said.
"But it's a testament to how fast we can go if we need
to," he said. "If the warfighter has a critical need,
we can get it out to them in record time."
Throughout the testing, the team members have been working
two and three missions in a given week, said Capt. Brian Neff,
419th FLTS chief flight test engineer.
Even with setbacks such as system malfunctions, the team has
been able to overcome those obstacles and stay on track.
"The main challenge is completing all testing in a safe
and timely manner to preserve training time for the operational
aircrew before they deploy with this new capability later this
summer," Colonel Brunner said. "We were presented
with a compressed schedule due to some production delays and
aircraft fallout, but in the end it's the great people involved
with the program who overcame a lot of adversity and made things
Because the sniper pod is a "desperately needed capability
in theater," everyone here has been incredibly focused
on getting this done, Colonel Asher said.
"We have gotten all of the support we've needed from the
Air Force Flight Test Center and all across the Air Force to
make this happen, and I'm proud to be a part of this team,"
Source: USAF Edwards AFB Press Release by Maj. Nori La