The U.S. Air Force might have taken a leap forward in deploying a hypersonic-missile armed B-1B bomber, arming a classic aircraft with the weapon, according to a USAF-released photo from Edwards Air Force Base in California.
A decades-old, combat-tested B-1B Lancer aircraft was armed with a Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile mounted under an external pylon, Fox News reported.
"Adapting a small number of our healthiest B-1s to carry hypersonic weapons is vital to bridge between the bomber force we have today, to the force of tomorrow," Air Force Global Strike Command Gen. Tim Ray said in a statement, per the report.
The Air Force had been working on a B-1B weapons bay to store as many as four hypersonic missiles, according to the report.
"In a demo I saw recently, the bulkhead moves as its designed ... when you take a CRL (Conventional Rotary Launcher) as its designed," Ray said at the 2019 Air Force Association Convention, per the report. "The mock up they had was one of the larger hypersonic weapons. It will be able to carry four or more hypersonic weapons internally. You can see the merit of that."
The B-1B capacity for internal weapons carriage can also increase from 24 to 40, according to the Air Force.
"This gets the B-1 into the larger weapons, the 5,000 pounders," Lt. Col. Dominic Ross announced in a statement, according to Fox News. "It gets it into the hypersonics game as well."
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