Although not as well known as the popular stealth B-2 bomber, the B-1B Lancer, which has served the United States Air Force since 1985 has been nicknamed “The Bone”.
The Lancer is a is a swing-wing bomber intended for high-speed, low-altitude penetration missions. It has a very long-range capability and can carry multi-mission bombing runs,. Originally designed to carry nuclear ornaments as well,, the plane was switched to a conventional combat aircraft in the mid 1990’s and in 1999, during Operation Allied Force, six B-1s flew 2 percent of the strike missions, yet dropped 20 percent of the ordnance. The B-1 has been used extensively in combat operations over Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.
The Lancer has extreme long range capability and can carry a variety of up to 75,000 lbs of arms worldwide.
Initial delivery was to the Strategic Air Command (SAC) in June 1985, at Dyess AFB, Texas. By November 1986, B-1Bs were coming off the production line at a rate of four per month. B-1Bs were based at Dyess AFB, Texas; Ellsworth AFB, S.D.; McConnell AFB, Kan.; Robins AFB, Ga.; and Mountain Home AFB, Idaho.
The B-1B is a world records for speed, with 61 awards. The National Aeronautic Association recognized the B-1B for completing one of the 10 most memorable record flights for 1994.
The first combat use of the B-1B was in December 1998 during operation Desert Fox, where the aircraft penetrated Iraqi air defenses to destroy Republican Guard barracks. This debut mission validated the B-1B’s conventional role and its ability to operate in a force package. In 1999, six B-1Bs were deployed to Royal Air Force Base Fairford, England, to support Operation Allied Force in Kosovo. Those six aircraft dropped more than 20 percent of the total tonnage in the conflict. In operation Enduring Freedom, B-1Bs dropped 40 percent of the weapons and 70 percent of the precision-guided JDAM weapons.
B-1B Lancer Technical Specifications
|Function||Long-range, multi-role, heavy bomber|
|Power plant||Four General Electric F101-GE-102 turbofan engine with afterburner|
|Thrust||30,000-plus pounds with afterburner, per engine|
|Wingspan||137 ft (41.8 m) extended forward, 79 ft (24.1 m) swept aft|
|Length||146 ft (44.5 meters)|
|Height||34 ft (10.4 meters)|
|Weight||Approximately 190,000 lbs (86,183 kg)|
|Max Takeoff Weight||477,000 lbs (216,634 kg)|
|Fuel Capacity||265,274 lbs (120,326 kg)|
|Payload||75,000 lbs internal (34,019 kg), 50,000 lbs (22,679 kg)|
|Speed||900-plus mph (Mach 1.2 at sea level)|
|Ceiling||More than 30,000 ft (9,144 m)|
|Crew||4 (aircraft commander, copilot, and two weapon systems officers)|