August 25, 1983: B-1B Weapons Separation Testing

  • Published
  • 96th Test Wing

Weapons separation tests of the B-1B Lancer began with the successful release of a dummy Air to ground munitions-69 short range attack missile over the Western Missile Test Range near Vandenberg Air Force Base, California..

Internal and External Store Separation looked at the characteristics of flight and resulting trajectory as a weapon was released in proximity to a parent air vehicle. This proximity testing technique evaluated the aerodynamic influence one body has on another in flight. Testing can be performed as grid runs or captive trajectory simulations. During a grid run, the store follows a predetermined angular path with respect to the aircraft. This test technique’s high level of automation provided customers with very high run rates and efficiencies. The test technique used proven six degrees of freedom rigid body equation of motion to simulate the release of a store. A developed captive trajectory simulation, demonstrated more than 60 years of expertise in weapons integration and proximity testing.

The Boeing AGM-69 SRAM was a nuclear air-to-surface missile. It had a range of up to 50 nautical miles, and was intended to allow US Air Force strategic bombers to penetrate Soviet airspace by neutralizing surface-to-air missile defenses.  SRAM was designed to replace the older AGM-28 Hound Dog standoff missile which was tasked with the same basic role. Hound Dog was a very large missile that could only be carried in pairs by the B-52, so some aircraft were tasked with suppressing Soviet missile and radar sites while others would carry on to strike their strategic targets. SRAM was so much smaller that a number could be carried along with other weapons, allowing a single aircraft to blast its own way through to its targets.  SRAM entered service in 1972 and was carried by a number of aircraft, including the B-52, FB-111A, and the B-1B. In September 1980 a ground fire raised concerns about the safety of the warhead, and in 1990 they were temporarily removed from service while safety checks were carried out. These revealed a number of the missile's rocket motors had developed cracks that could have resulted in them exploding when launched.  The SRAM was removed from service in 1993, by which time its mission was rendered obsolete by the introduction of the AGM-86, which could be launched from far outside the range of Soviet weapons, and no longer required the bombers to penetrate Soviet defenses.

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