We recently completed a first article part for the B-1 bomber. Once the fit and function are performed we will be producing several batches of this part.
Our understanding is that this component is part of the rudder assembly for the aircraft. This part was machined form solid 7000 series aluminum and presented several machining challenges which had to be managed. One of the main challenges is controlling the physical stresses that are created by the extrusion or forging processes. As material is removed the stresses can become unbalanced and create distortion in the part being produced. In this case, because of the thin walls involved the distortion could have become quite extreme.
Since we have a lot of experience machining 7000 series aluminum we were able to keep distortion under control. After going through several carefully planned roughing operations the final finishing operation was performed with a highly customized fixture designed to fully support the thin webbing. The finished parts that we produced are well within the required specifications.
Here are a few tidbits about the B-1B:
The B-1B is a multi-role, long-range bomber, capable of flying intercontinental missions without refueling, then penetrating present and predicted sophisticated enemy defenses. It can perform a variety of missions, including that of a conventional weapons carrier for theater operations.
The swing-wing design and turbofan engines not only provide greater range and high speed at low levels but they also enhance the bomber’s survivability. Wing sweep at the full-forward position allows a short takeoff roll and a fast base-escape profile for airfields under attack. Once airborne, the wings are repositioned for maximum cruise distance or high-speed penetration.
Numerous sustainment and upgrade modifications are ongoing or under study for the B-1B aircraft. A large portion of these modifications which are designed to increase the combat capability are known as the Conventional Mission Upgrade Program. The Air Force initiated to improve the B-1’s conventional war-fighting capabilities. The $2.7 billion CMUP program is intended to convert the B-1B from a primarily nuclear weapons carrier to a conventional weapons carrier.