B-1 Lancer

From Academic Kids

Missing image
The B-1 Lancer

The Boeing IDS (formerly Rockwell) B-1B Lancer is a long-range strategic bomber in service with the USAF. Together with the B-52 Stratofortress, it is the backbone of the United States' long-range bomber force.



The B-1 was conceived as the Advanced Manned Strategic Aircraft (AMSA) program circa 1965. After a prolonged development period, the contract was awarded in 1970 to Rockwell International. The first of four prototype B-1A models flew on December 23 1974. Intended as a high-speed, long-range bomber capable of a supersonic low-level dash and Mach 2.5 at altitude, the B-1A never went into production. The program was canceled in 1977, although flight test of the four B-1A models continued through 1981. One of these aircraft now resides at the National Museum of the United States Air Force near Dayton, Ohio and another at Wings Over the Rockies, in Denver, Colorado.

The Reagan administration restarted the B-1 program in 1981, originally as an interim bomber in anticipation of the stealthy Advanced Technology Bomber (which emerged as the B-2 Spirit). The first production model of the revised B-1B first flew in October 1984, and the first B-1B was delivered to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, in June 1985, with initial operational capability on October 1, 1986. The final B-1B was delivered May 2, 1988.

A total of 100 front-line aircraft were produced at a cost of over $200 million each. After several write-offs, 93 remained by the turn of the century. In 2003 the USAF decided to retire 33 of the B-1Bs to concentrate its budget on maintaining availability of the remaining aircraft, although in 2004 a new appropriations bill called for some of the retired aircraft to return to service. In 2004 the USAF returned seven of the mothballed bombers to service, giving a total force of 67 aircraft, with the rest cannibalized for spares. Five of the seven being brought back to service are going to Dyess AFB in Texas, one to Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota, and another to Edwards AFB in California.

The B-1B did not have a popular name during its early USAF service. By the time it was given the official popular name "Lancer" in 1990 it had already become known to its crews as the "Bone" (a contraction of "B one," also said to be inspired by its somewhat eerie shape).


The B-1B has a blended wing and body configuration, along with variable-geometry design and turbofan engines, to improve range and speed with enhanced survivability. Forward wing settings are used for takeoff, landings and high-altitude maximum cruise. Aft wing settings are used in high subsonic and supersonic flight, enhancing the B-1B's performance. The wings of the B-1B originally were cleared for use at settings of 15, 25, 55, and 67.5 degrees; 45-degree settings were cleared in 1998–1999. When moving wings between those points, pilots must now observe strict maneuvering limits and transition the wings without stopping.

Unlike the B-1A, the B-1B made no attempt at Mach 2+ speeds, although its F101-GE-102 engines are somewhat more powerful than those of the B-1A. Its maximum speed at altitude is 1.2 Mach (about 950 mph or 1,330 km/h), although its low-level speed, Mach 0.95 (about 700 mph/1,118 km/h) is superior to the B-1A's Mach 0.85.

The B-1B's offensive avionics include the Westinghouse AN/APQ-164 forward-looking offensive radar set, based on the AN/APG-66 of the F-16, but with electronic beam steering (and a fixed antenna pointed downward for reduced radar observability), synthetic aperture radar, ground moving target indicator (MTI), and terrain-following radar modes, Doppler navigation, radar altimeter, and an inertial navigation suite. From 1995 on, the B-1B Block D upgrade added a Global Positioning System receiver. These features were intended to provide accurate navigation without reliance on ground-based navigation aids.

The B-1B's defensive electronics include the Eaton AN/ALQ-161 radar warning and defensive jamming equipment, linked to a total of eight chaff/flare dispensers and managed by the AN/ASQ-184 defensive management system. The ALQ-161 has proved to be extremely troublesome in service, earning the B-1B an unfortunate reputation as the "world's first self-jamming bomber." Even the current ALQ-161A upgrade is seen as inadequate, although plans for a defensive systems upgrade program (DSUP) were cancelled for budgetary reasons. The B-1B has also been equipped to carry the ALE-50 Towed Decoy System. The "Bone" has an additional Doppler tail-warning radar to detect aircraft or missiles approaching from the rear, although the use of the radar raises the risk of detection through its emissions.

Also aiding the B-1B's survivability is its relatively low radar cross-section (RCS). Although not technically a stealth aircraft in a comprehensive sense, thanks to the aircraft's structure, serpentine intake paths, and use of radar-absorbent material, its RCS is about 1/50th that of the B-52 (probably about 26 ft), although the "Bone" is not substantially smaller than the Stratofortress.

The B-1B has been upgraded since production through the Conventional Mission Upgrade Program. This multi-stage program added a new MIL-STD-1760 smart-weapons interface that enables the use of the Joint Direct Attack Munition and other precision-guided conventional weapons, such as the Wind-Corrected Munitions (WCM) dispenser, and the AGM-154 JSOW (Joint Stand-Off Weapon). Later, future precision miniature munitions such as Small Diameter Bomb will be added. These and other improvements are intended to ensure that the B-1 will be viable through around 2020.

Ironically, the provision for precision-guided conventional weapons has been accompanied by the deletion of the B-1B's nuclear capability. The "Bone" currently is not equipped to carry or drop nuclear weapons.

The B-1B holds several 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.

Sometimes criticized as redundant, the B-1B was given new life as the new threats of the 21st-century surfaced, and fills a niche in the Air Force inventory. It is worth noting that the project finished on budget, and has higher survivability and speed as compared to the older B-52 which it was intended to replace. With the arrival of limited numbers of B-2s in the 1990s and the continuing use of the B-52s, its value has been questioned. However, the capability of a high speed strike with a large bomb payload for time-sensitive operations is useful, and no new strategic bomber is on the immediate horizon.

Operationally, the B-1B was first used in combat in support of operations against Iraq during Operation Desert Fox in December 1998. B-1s have been subsequently used in Operation Allied Force (Kosovo) and most notably Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

  • Date Deployed: June 1985
  • Unit Cost: $200-plus million per aircraft
  • Inventory:
    • active force: 67
    • mothballed: 24

Specifications (B-1 Lancer)

Missing image
B1-B Lancer on takeoff from RAF Fairford

General characteristics

  • Crew: 4 (aircraft commander, copilot, offensive systems officer and defensive systems officer)
  • Length: 147 ft (44.81 m)
  • Wingspan: 136 ft 8.5 in (41.67 m) extended, 78 ft 2.5 in (23.84 m) swept
  • Height: 34 (10.36 m)
  • Wing area: 1,950 ft² 181.2 m²
  • Empty: 192,000 lb (87,100 kg)
  • Loaded: 326,000 lb (148,000 kg)
  • Maximum takeoff: 477,000 lb (216,000 kg)
  • Powerplant:General Electric F101-GE-102 turbofans; 30,000 lbf (133 kN) thrust


  • Maximum speed: Mach 1.25
  • Maximum speed: 717 knots (1,329 km/h)
  • Range: 1,267 miles (2,037 km)
  • Service ceiling: 60,000 ft (18,300 m)
  • Rate of climb: ft/min ( m/min)
  • Wing loading: 167 lb/ft² (816 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight ratio: 0.37:1


External links

Related content

Related development:

Comparable aircraft: Tupolev Tu-160

Designation series: B-1 - B-2

Variants: B-1A - B-1B

See also

Lists of Aircraft | Aircraft manufacturers | Aircraft engines | Aircraft engine manufacturers

Airports | Airlines | Air forces | Aircraft weapons | Missiles | Timeline of aviation

de:Rockwell B-1

es:B-1B Lancer fr:Rockwell B-1 Lancer ja:B-1 (爆撃機) pl:B-1 Lancer


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