Still Bad to the Bone


The B-1B Lancer has lost its nuclear role but expanded its conventional weapons capabilities. Tom Kaminski provides an update on this bomber fleet

The sleek lines of the Lancer are shown to good effect on this example which has its wings swept. For such a large aircraft the B-1B bomber is very manoeuvrable 
Jim Haseltine

Commonly called the Bone (from B-One), the B-1B Lancer began its operational career nearly 35 years ago. In February, it was announced that for the first time four B-1Bs would be undertaking a detachment to Ørland Main Air Station in Norway on a Bomber Task Force (BTF) mission.

The B-1B still holds records for speed, payload, range and time of climb in its class, but the years and sustained combat operations have taken their toll on the bomber’s airframe. Despite its age and recent issues it remains one of the air force’s ‘go-to’ platforms and will likely continue to serve for another ten to 15 years before it enters a well-deserved retirement.

Activated at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, on August 7, 2009, Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) initially took control of the nuclear-capable B-52H and B-2A bombers. It assumed the responsibility for the entire manned bomber fleet on October 1, 2015, when the Lancers were realigned from Air Combat Command (ACC) to Air Force Global Strike Command.

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