The B-1 Lancer is a swing-wing bomber intended for high-speed, low-altitude penetration missions. By the end of 1977, three Rockwell International B-1As had made 118 flights with more than 21 hours at supersonic speeds. The next version was the B-1B. It first flew Oct. 18, 1984, could operate at 60,000 feet and had a range of more than 7,000 miles. The U.S. Air Force ordered 100 B-1Bs in 1982 and the first B-1B aircraft was delivered to the Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in October 1984, just 33 months after contract go-ahead.
Initial delivery to the Strategic Air Command took place in June 1985, at Dyess AFB, Texas. On Oct. 1, 1986, the B-1B achieved Initial Operational Capability and 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, South Dakota; McConnell AFB, Kansas; Robins AFB, Georgia; and Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. In 2001, the U.S. Air Force decided to retire 33 B-1Bs and remove the aircraft from Mountain Home and the Georgia and Kansas Air National Guard bases. This has now been accomplished and the remaining aircraft were consolidated at Dyess AFB and Ellsworth AFB.
The B-1B holds 61 world records for speed, payload and distance. 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.
||Dec. 23, 1974
||137 feet (extended), 79 feet (swept aft)
||Four 30,000-plus-pound-thrust General Electric F-101-GE-102 turbofan engines with afterburners
||Mach 1.2 at sea level
||Up to 84 Mark 82 conventional 500-pounds bombs, or 30 CBU-87/89/97, or 24 JDAMS, or can be reconfigured for wide range of nuclear bombs