The US Air Force's B-1 bomber just turned 30

The Boeing B-1 bomber has been the workhorse of the United States Air Force since it was first delivered in June 1985.

In honour of the elite bomber’s birthday, Boeing has announced a number of sweeping upgrades to turn the B-1 into a fully “integrated battle station.”

“We’re connecting the bombers to a global communications network that increases the situational awareness of the crew and allows for greater agility, like re-targeting weapons while in flight” said Dan Ruder, Boeing’s Advance Programs Lead, in a press release.

Take a look back at the history of the B-1.

The B-1 was originally designed to replace the ageing B-52 Stratofortress.

It combines the long-range capabilities of the B-52 with the sleek lines of a fighter jet.

Its wings can be pivoted forward and backward, depending on the requirements for a particular mission. Wide open wings allow the B-1 to fly high above radar for astonishingly long distances.

With its wings folded back, the plane can reach up to mach 2.2 -- or almost 1,700 mph.

Speeds like this, of course, wouldn't be possible without some impressive afterburners.

Four massive General Electric F101 engines each provide 30,000 pounds of thrust.

The B-1 led the fight in Operation Desert Storm and has been a powerful tool in many other Middle Eastern conflicts.

It can carry a massive payload of up to 75,000 pounds of missiles or bombs, including nuclear weapons ...

... and drop them with almost pinpoint accuracy.

When not seeing combat, the B-1 is a popular plane for sporting events and other fly-over opportunities, thanks to its impressive size, speed, and sound.

It can be refueled mid-air, meaning it can fly indefinitely with no need to land to fill its 10,000-gallon fuel tanks.

The B-1 currently operates out of Dyess Air Force Base near Abilene, TX, and Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, and a few others.

Hundreds of B-1s have been produced since 1986.

An Air Force B-1 crew chief from the 405th Air Expeditionary Wing launches a B-1B bomber for a combat mission.

Fighter aircraft, led by a USAF B1-B tactical bomber, fly over the 4,500-year-old pyramids in Egypt.

Ground crews prepare B1 bombers of the U.S. 77th Bomber Squadron at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, England.

When a plane reaches the end of its lifespan, it isn't sold for scrap.

It's trucked to an 'aircraft boneyard' in Arizona.

At Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Arizona, hundreds of retired aircraft sit patiently, awaiting use as spare parts.

Hundreds of aircraft, the B-1 included, have ended their life in the Arizona desert.

This lonely B-1 is patiently awaiting its fate.

The Boeing B-1 bomber changed aerial warfare forever. Here's to another 30 years.

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