Could the B-1 Bomber Be Turned Into a Gunship?

    Task and Purpose, Brad Howard

    Security, North America

    Is that possible? Or is it just simply a really bad idea? 

    One day flying over Afghanistan, sometime in mid-2010, ground troops who were getting shot at requested ISR support (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance). Unfortunately when they requested this show of force, our small Air Force prop plane, the majestic and swan-like MC-12W, was insufficient to strike fear into the hearts of the Taliban through looks alone. Luckily, an Air Force B-1B bomber was flying in the stack with us. It was majestic watching it fly below us, and its silhouette evoked terrifying images in the ancient DNA in my brain. Perhaps having the B-1B bomber overhead helped end the incoming fire the troops were taking without firing a shot. Maybe not.

    But the one thing I do know is that it cost an insane amount for every flight hour of this dragon-like aircraft to fly over the dusty, sparse terrain of afghanistan. The B-1B has the worst maintenance man hours to flight hour ratio of any aircraft in the U.S. arsenal, according to Air Force Magazine. Modifying the Bone to have kickass swivel guns and even more moving parts, such as in the patents The Drive recently unearthed, just seems like a way to make that ratio somehow worse.

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