An eight-year project to install the Integrated Battle Station on the B-1B Lancer fleet has been completed ahead of schedule. Sixty aircraft went through the modification process that began in late 2012 and was completed in September 2020. The Integrated Battle Station was the largest, most complicated modification ever performed on the B-1 and it gave the flight deck a whole new look. The Integrated Battle Station was developed as three separate modifications: Fully Integrated Data Link, Vertical Situational Display Unit and Central Integrated Test System. The completed modification will enhance B-1B flight operations and give the crews more flexibility in performing their various missions. The onset of the Coronavirus pandemic had little effect on the timeline of the modification.
Col. Greg Lowe, 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group commander, said IBS provides upgraded capability for communications and situational display, which is a tremendous advantage to the warfighters in Air Force Global Strike Command. “Using the Air Force Sustainment Center’s constraints-based management system, known as ‘Art of the Possible,’ the artisans of the 567th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron developed a repeatable process to efficiently install the modification on the aircraft,” Lowe said. “The project employed 120 mechanics and support personnel at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex for the past eight years. And while this mission is coming to an end, all of our employees will be diverted to other growing workload at Tinker.”
To complete a modification of this size took thousands of man-hours of work. Rodney Shepard, director of the 567th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, said with 120 maintainers assigned to the modification line working two shifts, completing all 60 aircraft over the past eight years came to 1,050,000 hours of planned work. With this large an undertaking, there was bound to be some difficulties along the way. By the time the modification was completed, 987 aircraft availability days were returned to the warfighter. The 567th AMXS’s dedication to continuous process improvement on the Integrated Battle Station modification line was a significant element in the unit winning the Robert T. Mason Award for Best Depot Level Maintenance Facility in 2017.
Lt. Col. James Couch, Commander, 10th Flight Test Squadron, whose pilots and Weapon System Officers performed numerous check flights on the modified aircraft, echoed those comments. “This upgrade drastically improves aircrew situational awareness with color displays, and enhanced navigation and communication systems are projected to significantly enhance B-1B mission readiness,” Couch said. “Although this closes a chapter, this continues the unprecedented advances of B-1B lethality and aircrew situational awareness for decades to come. All of these benefits are made possible by the IBS upgrade.”