The Rockwell B-1 Lancer, a supersonic with variable seep wing, is a heavy bomber that is used by the United States Air Force. The aircraft is nicknamed as The Bone and is the part of the US Air Force’s three strategic bombers as of 2019. The other two of these strategic bombers are the B-21 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress.
The design of the aircraft was inspired from the 1960s B-58 Hustler and B-52 to make a bomber that would be able to reach the speed of Mach 2 while maintaining the increased payload and range. The aircraft was developed after a long series of research and development by the Rockwell International which is now the part of the Boeing Company. The program initially had a setback back in 1977 with its retypes ready for testing due to the high cost of the aircraft’s development and the early work of stealth carried out on all strategic bombers.
The program was once again started back in 1981 as only as an interim measure until the stealth technology was fully incorporated. This led to the development of the prototype B-1B which was able to fly at the speeds of Mach 1.25 but was also able to fly at the speed of Mach 0.96 on low-level altitudes along with better electronics and redesigning of the airframe.
Although the aircraft took its first flight back in 1974, the aircraft formally entered the US Air Force’s service back on 1st October 1986. The aircraft entered into service as the nuclear bomber for the SAC (Strategic Air Command). The company manufactured nearly 100 of these strategic bombers for the US Air Force and all of them were delivered to the air force by 1988.
For our readers today we have gathered a few of the amazing facts about the Rockwell B-1 Lancer which are as follows.
The vision for the design of the Rockwell B-1 Lancer was made in the 1960s to make an aircraft that would be capable of having the speed of Mach 2.0 like that of B-58 Hustler and also the range and payload capacity of the B-52 to ultimately replace both of these bombers.
The design work was carried out by the Rockwell International at the time which is now the part of the Boeing.
The very first prototype of the Rockwell B-1 Lancer was B1-A which was able to fly at the speed of Mach 2.2 at high altitudes and at Mach 0.85 at low-level altitudes.
The prototype B-1A took its first flight back on December 23rd, 1974. Although the flight test was successful and according to the requirements, the program suffered a huge setback and was shut down due to the high budget cost of manufacturing the aircraft. The flight testings were still carried out until 1981.
Revival for the B-1 program:-
The program during the presidential reign of Ronald Regan was once again revived. The result of this tie was the B-1B aircraft which suffered a serious drop in speed at Mach 1.2 being the top speed at high altitudes while Mach 0.95 at low-level altitudes.
The reduction happened due to redesigning for the aircraft and changing the variable air inlet to fixed inlet. Another major change carried out in its design was its payload capacity. The new B-1B was able to carry a payload of 74000 pounds in weight along with having an improved radar system and reduction of radar cross section.
This first B1-B prototype flew back in October of 1984.
Delivery for the first Rockwell B-1 Lancer:-
The very first delivery of the Rockwell B-1 Lancer for active duty was to the Dyess Air Force Base, Texas back in June o 1985. The aircraft was operational by October 1st, 1986.
First combat mission:-
The Rockwell B-1 Lancer was first time used by the US Air Force as a support aircraft against Iraq in 1998 for the Operation Desert Fox.
There are currently the following active squadrons of the Rockwell B-1 Lancer.
- 9th and 28th Bomb Squadrons
- 7th Bomb Wing
- the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron, Dyess AFB, Texas
- 34th and 37th Bomb Squadrons
- 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota
The Rockwell B-1 Lancer is better known by its nickname “The Bone”. The nickname is given because of its phonetic spellings; B-ONE.
Number of missions flown:-
The Rockwell B-1 Lancer since the time it entered in active duty has flown for 12000 plus sorties in the following conflicts.
The Rockwell B-1 Lancer is equipped with Four General Electric F101-GE-102 turbofan engines with afterburners that can produce a thrust of 30,000-plus pounds from each engine.
The B-1 Lancer is able to reach the maximum altitude of about 30000 feet or 9144 meters while climbing at a speed of Mach 1.
The cost to manufacture:-
The cost to manufacture a single B-1 Lancer is about 317 million dollars.
The aircraft was initially designed to carry the nuclear weapons but now it no longer holds any nuclear weapons. The aircraft is currently equipped with following weapons.
- AGM-86B air launch cruise missile (ALCM)
- AGM-69 short-range attack missile
- a combination of 24 mk84 2,000lb general purpose bombs
- eight mk65 naval mines
- 84 mk82 500lb general purpose bombs
- 84 mk62 500lb naval mines
- 30 CBU-87, -89, -97 cluster munitions
- 30 CBU-103, -104, -105 wind-corrected munitions dispenser (WCMD)
- 24 AGM-158 joint air to surface stand-off missiles (JASSM)
- 12 AGM-154 joint stand-off weapons (JSOW)
The Rockwell B-1 Lancer is one of the three major strategic bombers that are currently inactive duty serving for the US Air Force. The aircraft is amongst the best bomber aircraft of the world with its maximum payload capacity of over750000 pounds and its amazing speed of Mach 1.9 on high altitudes and Mach 0.95 at low altitudes. The aircraft which was initially design to serve as a nuclear weapons carrier is nowadays equipped with all sorts of other strategic weapons instead of nuclear weapons and has served in over 12000 plus missions for the Air Force.