B-1 Digital Engineering Program Lands $100 Million Contract


The Wichita State University National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) has been granted a $100 million contract to continue work on generating a virtual rendition of the B-1 bomber. The six-year follow-on contract was awarded by the B-1 System Program Office (SPO) at Oklahoma’s Tinker Air Force Base. NIAR’s B-1 digital engineering project began in early 2020 with the creation of a “structural digital twin” of a single B-1 wing.

“This project brings the B-1 into the same field as newly designed aircraft and allows digital modeling to predict future areas of concern,” said B-1 SPO Material Leader for Structures Lt. Col. Joseph Lay. “This will allow the SPO to proactively develop repairs, reduce the cost and schedule for parts procurement by eliminating the burden of interpreting legacy Air Force (AF) drawings, and increase the number of vendors who are capable of producing parts for the B-1 platform.”

The B-1 digital engineering project has grown to include the structure of the entire airframe along with an integrated digital engineering environment. To create its digital model, NIAR disassembled an Air Force B-1 and scanned “every individual structural part down to the nuts and bolts.” As previously reported by AVweb, NIAR is also working on a program to create a digital model of the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. “…a full-scale 3D model of the F-16 Fighting Falcon.”

    Or a digital (“virtual”) model of the F-16?
    “Scale” need not apply.