The U.S. Air Force proved this month that laser guided bombs can, in fact, hit moving targets at sea when dropped from supersonic bombers like the B-1B Lancer.
On Sept. 4, a B-1 from the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron took off from Dyess Air Force Base bound for the Gulf of Mexico. Their goal was to better understand and improve their maritime strike capabilities while using a laser guided 500-pound bomb GBU-54, as well as 500 and 2,000-pound joint direct attack munitions.
“Many of the dynamic targeting skills we’ve refined over the past decade on land are directly applicable in the maritime environment,” said Capt. Alicia Datzman, 337th Tactics and Evaluation Squadron chief of weapons and tactics. “This is the perfect opportunity to validate and refine these tactics.”
“This evaluation solidifies what our crew members have already known, ‘We can strike surface targets,’” said Lt. Col. Alejandro Gomez, 337th TES special projects officer. “The knowledge we gain from these events gives combatant commanders assurance that we can be called upon to complete the mission.”
The B-1′s role in the tactics development and evaluation was to detect, target and engage small boats using currently fielded and available weapons, released in all weather conditions.
In a statement on the Dyess Air Force Base website, Gomez said that B-1s are also prime aircraft, capable of protecting important assets at sea and patrolling allied shipping lanes, because of its speed and ability to stay in the air longer than most aircraft.
“Future wars might not all be on land, some may include surface combat, so we are evaluating the way we employ the B-1 to aid in completing the mission,” Gomez said.