Boeing said Monday it has begun flight tests for a B-1 Lancer bomber upgraded with new digital avionics for the aft cockpit, including a line-of-sight Link 16 data link. The B-1 Fully Integrated Data Link (FIDL) made its first flight test on June 4 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
The four-hour flight was conducted by the U.S. Air Force around the local Edwards test ranges. The crew successfully tested the Link 16 data link by sending and receiving text messages and receiving virtual mission assignment data such as target coordinates for a weapon. The program will conduct three flight tests this month. Additional flight tests will take place through January 2011. The entire Air Force fleet of 66 B-1s is expected to receive the FIDL upgrade.
According to Boeing, the Link 16 adds line-of-sight capability to the B-1's existing beyond line-of-sight Joint Range Extension Applications Protocol (JREAP) data link, and integrates the JREAP data onto new, full-color displays with intuitive symbols and moving maps.