Divested B-1B to become ground integration lab at Edwards AFB

The US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) revealed on March 8 that a recently retired Rockwell B-1B Lancer will become the new Edwards Aircraft Ground Integration Lab (EAGIL) at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) in California.

The supersonic strategic bomber – serial 86-0099 (c/n 59) – is one of 17 B-1Bs that are currently being divested by the US Air Force (USAF) and was formerly operated by the 37th Bomb Squadron (BS) ‘Tigers’ at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota. The aircraft completed its last sortie and landed for the final time at Edwards AFB on February 23, where it will continue to serve the USAF as a new EAGIL platform.

B-1B Lancer [USAF/May Straight]
Rockwell B-1B Lancer - serial 86-0099 (c/n 59) - rolls out after landing at Edwards AFB, California, on February 23, 2021. The aircraft's arrival at the California base marked the end of its flying career, as it will continue to serve the USAF as a new Edwards Aircraft Ground Integrated Lab (EAGIL). USAF/May Straight

Stephen Salas, B-1 platform lead with the Global Power Bombers Combined Test Force, said: “EAGIL will be a non-flyable aircraft that will be used as an integration lab for future upgrades. We plan to do avionics software, weapon and hardware testing, new equipment fit checks, prototyping efforts and EAGIL will be used to support weapon load training, egress training, as well as aircraft familiarisation for new personnel. EAGIL will save 100-200 days of scheduled downtime for our two flyable developmental test aircraft.”

The AFLCMC states that the arrival of the B-1B came after a detail review “determined which aircraft systems need to be maintained to allow aircraft use for ground testing and other training uses.” It adds that the review was also used to establish regular maintenance schedules and determine annual support costs relating to the bomber’s new role. Based on test requirements, the B-1B will be kept in a tow capable condition, allowing it to be moved around the air base when required.

Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) proposed that it divested 17 of its 62-strong fleet of B-1Bs in February 2020. It noted that the selection of the initial aircraft for retirement would be based on the structural integrity of their individual airframes, after spending two decades conducting continuous combat operations. This plan later gained congressional approval under the US government’s Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA).

To read more about the USAF’s retirement of 17 B-1B Lancer supersonic strategic bombers, follow the link below.