B-1B Lancer: Time to Send This Bomber to the Boneyard?

January 10, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: MilitaryB-1BB-1B LancerB-1 BomberU.S. Air ForceAir Force

B-1B Lancer: Time to Send This Bomber to the Boneyard?

The sad reality is that the B-1B Lancer is getting older and has many hours of service time used up. As the B-21 Raider emerges, the B-1 will be fazed out. 

B-1B Lancers Grounded at Ellsworth AFB But Still Flying From Dyess - The Rockwell B1 Lancer has been grounded at Ellsworth Air Force Base (AFB), South Dakota, for at least two weeks as investigators begin probing what caused the crash of one of the long-range strategic bombers last week.

All four of the crew were able to safely eject and survived the crash. Three were treated for minor injuries, while one was admitted to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Regular flying operations in the B-1 at Ellsworth AFB were halted on January 5, the day after the accident, and are slated to remain grounded until January 19, according to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) flight notice. The base, which features a single runway, may extend that downtime as needed, the Air Force Times reported.

The downed bomber was one of two B-1 Lancers participating in a local training mission in the early evening of January 4. While the lead aircraft landed safely at Ellsworth, the second Lancer crashed on approach around 5:50 p.m. local time, the Air Force said. The National Weather Service reported low visibility and freezing conditions at the time of the accident.

It was the first major crash of a B-1 since 2013.

Satellite images of the wreck, taken from Planet Labs, have made the rounds online and as reported by TheDrive, show the bomber resting off to the side of the runway at Ellsworth. It appears that the aircraft undershot the runway, and impacted the ground just before the runway threshold.

"Prominent black marks suggestive of the impact/touchdown point are visible just before the chevrons that demarcate the threshold area. This scarring does not exist in imagery taken of the base in months past," TheDrive noted. The bomber then veered to the left and off the runway.

The crash is being investigated.

B-1 Sill Flying

Though Ellsworth AFB has grounded its bombers, the B-1 Lancer will continue to fly from Dyess AFB, Texas.

B-1B Bomber

"The B-1B Lancers assigned to Dyess are currently undergoing normal daily operations and will continue to stand ready to deliver combat capabilities at a moment?s notice," the base announced this week.

The host unit at Dyess is the 7th Bomb Wing of the Global Strike Command, which was activated on October 1, 1993. The wing performs combat training with the Boeing B-1B Lancer bomber and is currently the United States Air Force's premier operational B-1B unit with 36 aircraft.

The B-1 supersonic bomber first entered service in the mid-1980s. It continues to be used to support the U.S. bomber presence in the Asia-Pacific region and to conduct close air support missions in U.S. operations around the world. Since the end of the Cold War, it does not carry nuclear weapons.

B-1 Bomber

The B-1 has a blended wing body configuration, with a variable-sweep wing, four turbofan engines, triangular ride-control fins, and a cruciform tail. The wings can sweep from 15 to 67.5 degrees (full forward to full sweep). Forward-swept wing settings are used for takeoff, landings, and high-altitude economical cruise. Aft-swept wing settings are used in high subsonic and supersonic flight.

A total of 104 were originally built, yet fewer than 60 remain in service today. The bombers are stationed at Dyess AFB, Texas, and Ellsworth AFB.

B-1 Bomber

The sad reality is that the B-1B Lancer is getting older and has many hours of service time used up. As the B-21 Raider emerges, the B-1 will be fazed out. 

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu 

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. Email the author: [email protected]