DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
The 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron spent time at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, testing new software during U.S. Air Force Weapons Integration, or WSINT.
Sustainment Block 17 was tested operationally for the first time on Dyess B-1B Lancers. Although, SB16 is still fairly new, there were some upgrades that needed to be made to better accomplish the mission.
“SB17 allows for quicker data output and data sharing between the front and aft stations of the B-1,” said Danel Mendoza, 337th TES instrumentation specialist. “There are structural and software improvements to how we fly, how we drop bombs, how we trouble shoot and how we navigate through the aircraft.”
One of the extensive updates is the Central Integrated Test System, or CITS, that makes it easier to know what is wrong, rather than having to guess. Before, Airmen had to decode a message to troubleshoot a problem. This new system will accurately pinpoint the issue to allow for a quicker fix.
During integration multiple aircraft work together to help accomplish the mission. Since the Air Force trains like it fights, Nellis AFB is the perfect place to put new software to the test.
“Weapons integration is the perfect match for testing,” said Lt. Col. Dominic, 337th TES director of operations. “There are a lot of players, a multitude of aircraft and advanced scenarios that allow us to access everything the software has to offer and stress it out. We make sure the students here are at the top of their game, so their help in developing the software allows us to be more lethal and more survivable when it’s all said and done.”
Pilots and weapons systems officers are the ones who test the software while flying, but many professionals play a role in getting SB17 fully operational. Instrumentation Specialists build a Consolidated Data Acquisition System for the aircraft and are in charge of gathering all data, while maintenance Airmen ensure the jet itself is fully operational. They stand-by to fix any problem that may arise prior to take-off, and upon landing.
Instrumentation Specialists conduct tests and evaluations of aircrafts while troubleshooting repairing, modifying and installing complex instruments and equipment combined with other devices in support of B-1 instrumentation systems. Once the aircraft has landed, they are required to collect and review all data to see what went well and where improvements are needed.
“Our main focus is data collection to include video, audio and data busses,” Mendoza said. “We gather all information that comes through the jet and review it to ensure everything is working correctly. The video is beneficial so that we can stop and pause to see the exact moment when something goes wrong.”
Overall, SB17 is a new system that is less expensive to maintain, easier to sustain and more operationally capable, according to Dominic.
“This is money well spent,” Dominic said. “It helps keep the B-1 relevant and sustainable. It’s great to be a part of this training. You taught to train like you fight and we train harder than the fight so that we come back alive. It’s all about readiness.”