A first B-1B Lancer bomber has flown into the gigantic US military aircraft depot in Arizona. This is the first step in the United States Air Force (USAF) plan to disable 17 of its Rockwell (now Boeing) B-1B Lancer nuclear weapons attack bombers in the coming months, reducing the active fleet to just 45 units.
We have been working on retiring the old bombers for some time to make way for the B-21 Raider, said Gen. Timothy M. Ray, commander of the Air Forces Global Strike Command or Air Force Global Strike (AFGSC) via a press release. Due to the wear and tear of the B-1 fleet over the past two decades, servicing these bombers would cost tens of millions of dollars per aircraft to return to the status quo, just to fix the problems we are aware of. We’re just speeding up planned retirements, General Ray said.
That announcement was confirmed when a lone B-1B was seen flying over Arizona last Wednesday. Confirmation from a USAF spokesman that the aircraft is flying from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, the headquarters of the 28th Bomb Wing (Bomber Wing), to Davis-Monthan Air Base, Arizona. Davis-Monthan is home to the Boneyard (graveyard), which is used to keep retired aircraft for parts or future use. The 7th bomb wing, located at Dyess Air Base, Texas, also works with the B-1.
In its fiscal 2021 budget inquiry, the USAF proposed removing 17 B-1B bombers from its current 62-person fleet in order to keep the aircraft more functional. A technical report detailed that a small number of these variable geometry wing bombers are in a condition that would require approximately $ 10 million to $ 30 million per aircraft to return to their original status quo.
Legislators allowed the service to continue withdrawals, but asked AFGSC to produce a new strategy sheet for their bombers setting out how the USAF, given its current bomber aircraft structure, can meet the requirements of its long-range mission (conventional and nuclear) in of the National Defense Strategy.
According to American law, bombers stored in Davis-Monthan must be stored so well that their parts can be used for others or are even ready for operation again, as in the case of some of the B-52Hs stored there for decades. The USAF spokesman said 14 bombers will fly to the Davis-Monthan aircraft depot in late September, though final details are still being considered. Plans for the remaining three are still in the air, but will most likely be sent to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. For use as weapons and systems test platforms, or for deployment to the Tinker Aircraft Facility, Oklahoma structural assessment.
In 2012 the USAF began modifying their Integrated Battle Station (IBS), possibly the largest and most complicated modernization of the B-1B. In addition, the upgrade to the improved navigation and communication system, which was completed in September 2020, cost the service approximately $ 1.1 billion. However, due to the almost two decades of service in the Middle East and Central Asia as the only supersonic heavy-lift bomber in the USA, the Lancer’s fleet has repeatedly failed and had to be comprehensively maintained.
Over the past two months, B-1B bombers have been spotted in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly the East and South China Seas, on multiple high-visibility patrols known as dynamic deployment of the armed forces. On the European stage last May, the bombers of the 28th LA Bombing Wing conducted their first training mission over Sweden, near the Arctic and other settings on the old continent. In addition, the Lancers will be dispatched to Norway for similar training in the next few days, the USAF reported this month. (Julio Maz Sanz).
Photo: One of the spectacular B-1B highlights its wing system with variable geometry. (USAF photo)
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