Rockwell B-1 Lancer

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A B-1B Lancer of the USAF taking off from RAF Fairford in July 2005.

The Rockwell (now part of Boeing) B-1 Lancer is a four-engine supersonic variable-sweep wing strategic bomber used by the United States Air Force (USAF). It was first envisioned in the 1960s as a supersonic bomber with Mach 2 speed, and sufficient range and payload to replace the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress. It was developed into the B-1B, primarily a low-level penetrator with long range and Mach 1.25 speed capability at high altitude.

Designed by Rockwell International, the bomber's development was delayed multiple times over its history, as the theory of strategic balance changed from flexible response to massive retaliation and back again. Each change in stance changed the perceived need for manned bombers. The initial B-1A version was developed in the early 1970s, but its production was canceled, and only four prototypes were built. The need for a new platform once again surfaced in the early 1980s, and the aircraft resurfaced as the B-1B version with the focus on low-level penetration bombing. However, by this point development of stealth technology was promising an aircraft of dramatically improved capability. Production went ahead as the B version would be operational before the "Advanced Technology Bomber" (which became the B-2 Spirit), during a period when the B-52 would be increasingly vulnerable. The B-1B entered service in 1986 with the USAF Strategic Air Command (SAC) as a nuclear bomber.

In the early 1990s, following the Gulf War and concurrent with the disestablishment of SAC and its reassignment to the newly formed Air Combat Command (ACC), the B-1B was converted to conventional bombing use. It first served in combat during Operation Desert Fox in 1998 and again during the NATO action in Kosovo the following year. The B-1B has supported U.S. and NATO military forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Lancer is the supersonic component of the USAF's long-range bomber force, along with the subsonic B-52 and Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit. The bomber is commonly called the "Bone" (originally from "B-One"). In 2012, the Canadian government purchased twelve B-1B Lancers for the Canadian Forces Air Command.

Variants[edit | edit source]

B-1A[edit | edit source]

The B-1A was the original B-1 design with variable engine intakes and Mach 2.2 top speed. Four prototypes were built; no production units were manufactured.

B-1B[edit | edit source]

The B-1B is a revised B-1 design with reduced radar signature and a top speed of Mach 1.25. It was otherwise optimized for low-level penetration. A total of 100 B-1Bs were produced.

B-1R[edit | edit source]

The B-1R/CB-1R is an upgrade of the B-1B Lancer. It is powered by a quartet of Orenda PS.14 Haida turbofans and is equipped with an AN/APG-82 AESA radar. There are also modifications to the aircraft to allow greater internal carrying capacity. The B-1R has reshaped wing gloves and extra fuel tanks improve the range. Special pods between the engines on each side will allow the carrying of three AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles on each side, while it also carries four AIM-9X Sidewinders on the wing gloves on each side, under the wings next to the engines. Ahead of the bomb bays are four hardpoints, with four more behind the third bomb bay and two more on each side of the second bomb bay. Each hardpoint is rated for up to to 1500 kg, designed to carry up to six Taurus KEPD 350 air-launched cruise missiles, while the internal bays carry bombs or missiles themselves.

Users[edit | edit source]

  • Canadian Forces Air Command
  • United States Air Force
    • 9th Bomber Squadron
    • 13th Bomber Squadron
    • 28th Bomber Squadron
    • 34th Bomber Squadron
    • 37th Bomber Squadron
    • 46th Bomber Squadron
    • 77th Bomber Squadron
    • 127th Bomber Squadron
    • 128th Bomber Squadron
    • 337th Bomber Squadron
    • 338th Bomber Squadron
    • 419th Flight Test Squadron

See Also[edit | edit source]