The start of retirement for the B-1B Bomber has begun as they, the B-21 Raiders, will come into prominence. Still capable of operation, but it is aging fast against new technology used in fighters, and antiaircraft defenses dictate it a risk.
One of the first B-1B Lancers going to the Boneyard was confirmed by the Air Force Global Strike Command. It announced last Wednesday as the planes will be mothballed and reducing the bomber fleet.
Lancers are getting replaced
This is the first step to slimming down the number of Lancers in the months to come. After all the planes are sent to the Boneyard, all left of the active Lancers will on be 45 planes left. Competition from modernizing adversaries dictates that the fleet be improved, reported Military.
According to Gen. Tim Ray, Air Force Global Strike Command commander said that the legacy bombers are retired to allow the B-21 Raider to replace the aging bombers. The Air Force cannot maintain the older bombers due to they will get expensive.
Twenty years of flying has taken its toll on the old bomber, with wear and tear that is not cheap to restore. An estimated millions of dollars for exposed problems but added will be hidden ones.
Ray told the press in a statement. During 2003, about 33 Lancers were retired as planners made changes to the bomber fleet. Modernization demanded that more advanced bombers like the B-2 Spirit are needed for US supremacy.
The #B21 Raider will replace the #B1 Lancer and #B2 Spirit aircraft at three existing bomber bases and those bases are (drum rooooooooollllllllllllll) the @28thBombWing @DyessAFBase and @Whiteman_AFB! https://t.co/aeFAEp4d54 pic.twitter.com/dxDGkyV1c4— U.S. Air Force (@usairforce) May 4, 2018
The last flight of the old warbird, a singular B-1 making its last sortie to the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona last Wednesday. Flying from the Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, it is on its way to final retirement.
The Boneyard is where airplanes are sent to be parked and cannibalized for parts. Lancers are parked in Dyess Air Force Base in Texas.
Sources say that in 2021, the Air Force asked to retire 17 bombers in its existing 62- bombers to allot more money to working planes. One official said some of the aircraft would cost 30 million dollars to repair, said the statement.
The bottom line is that wasting money on older bombers is not an option for the Air Force. By 2036, planners will have the all-bombers mothballed at the Boneyard.
Based on the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, approval was given to start the bomber fleet changes. So it can meet the requirements for the long-range strike mission (National Defense Strategy). Under this law, all the bombers will be kept and stored for the parts.
Scheduled for the Boneyard are 14 more bombers taking their last flights, while the air force planes further. The next batch of bombers will be sent at the end of September 2021.
Another 3 Lancers are going to Edwards AFB (California) for testing. In the Tinker AFB in Oklahoma for other purposes, said the press release.
While not fully retired, the B-1B Lancer bomber will find uses
Upgrades to the Lancers began in 2012 and were completed in September 2020, costing $1.1 billion to improve the plane with new systems. It is still used as a capable weapon system yet effective but is getting obsolete until the B-2 Raider is ready.
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