Pictures of C-141B 64-0649 being towed out of AMARC
86-0097 Rockwell B-1B sitting in the AMARC arrival area very shortly after arriving
during April/May 2003. This aircraft, allocated PCN AABT0016, was previously operated
by the 37th Bomber Squadron of the 28th Bomber Wing operating out of Ellsworth AFB, South
Dakota. Note the 'EL' tailcode and 'Guardian' noseart.
LATEST: This B-1B has now been returned to service after being regenerated at AMARC. See below for more details.
The USAF Rockwell B-1 fleet has recently undergone a radical change bought about by the
need to reduce operational costs in an attempt to fund the type's continued use.
33 of the remaining fleet are to be retired, leaving 60 on the USAF inventory. After the reduction,
the remaining fleet from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho; Robins AFB, GA.;
and McConnell AFB, KA., will be consolidated at Ellsworth AFB, SD., and Dyess AFB, TX.
The B-1 history has been full of controversy since it's introduction in 1985.
The B-1's original mission was the dropping of Nuclear weapons deep in the heart of the Soviet Union, however,
in 1997 this role was dropped. Since then its supporters have been battling to redefine it's role but
this has not been easy. Technical problems have plagued it's operational life, from faulty engines,
system leaks and cracked landing gear to incompatible electrical systems, there have been a series
of upgrades which have been required to keep the type at operational readiness. Severe underfunding
has not helped matters and this has made the B-1 reduction neccessary. The projected savings resulting
from the fleet restructure is in the order of $130,000,000, this will be routed back to the fund
further system upgrades for the remaining operational aircraft.
Recent upgrades to electronic, smart weaponary and decoy systems have significantly increased the B-1Bs
capabilities. In bombing missions over Afghanistan the B-1B dropped more munitions than any over aircraft
type and was seen as a critical component during the conflict. B-1 supporters will point to this as
proof that their beliefs in the type were justified and that it does have a future with the Air Force ahead
24 B-1B's are to be delivered to AMARC to provide attrition replacements and spare parts.
10 will be placed in inviolate storage, keeping them ready for re-introduction to the
operational fleet. The other 14 will be turned over for reclamation and will help provide
A further 7 B-1B's were expected at AMARC to take the total to the 24 mentioned above. However, this may have changed with the decision
to regenerate 86-0097 and potentially more of the B-1's in the coming months.
AMARC B-1B 86-0097 returned to service
August 2004 saw the return to service of B-1B 86-0097 to the 7th Bomb Wing, Dyess AFB, TX.
AMARC B-1Bs back into service?
The Fiscal 2004 authorization bill includes a provision requiring the USAF to bring back into
service 23 of the 32 B-1Bs that were retired during 2003. This move will prove unpopular with the
USAF as due to the cost savings in cutting the B-1B fleet to 60 aircraft the rate of B-1B fleet readiness
has vastly improved and the number of accidents has decreased.
A total of $20.3 million has been provided to accomplish the reconstitution of the 23 aircraft but the Air
Force say that they will require at least $1 billion. The $980 million short fall will have to be made up with
reductions elsewhere in the service, it will be for the USAF to decide where these savings are to be made.
The performance of the B-1B during the recent conflicts seems to have impressed the men at the top, most noticably
Senate Minority Leader, Tom Daschle who introduced and justified this measure. This decision has created an interesting
situation where the USAF feels that by receiving the 23 B-1Bs back into service, their bomber
fleet effectiveness will actually decrease.
Source: Air Force Magazine
Looking at the B-1B stored at AMARC only 7 examples look like they are in an airworthy condition. The other 10 examples are
located on the RIT giving up parts for reclamation, although depending on how many parts have been removed some of these could well be
candidates for reintroduction.
The following article was seen in the January 2004 Air Force Magazine.
B-1Bs Coming Back
The House and Senate authorizers approved a provision that will require the Air Force to
reconstitute 23 B-1Bs out of the 32 B-1B bombers USAF has retired. (See "Washington
Lawmakers authorized $97 million-some $5.4 million more than the administration's request-
for B-1B modifications. Part of the funds would be used to begin the regeneration
process for the 23 B-1Bs.
Air Force Magazine
The following article was seen on the Air Force Association web site in September.
Three Committees Favor B-1B Reconstitution
By mid-July, a plan to bring some B-1Bs back from retirement had picked up steam. Three of the four defense oversight committees approved a plan to give the Air Force
$20.3 million in Fiscal 2004, to return to service 23 of the 32 B-1B bombers that are being retired this year.
The Air Force opposes the plan, noting in a formal appeal to lawmakers that the B-1B is now experiencing its highest mission capable
rates since 1996. The service attributes the higher rate to the consolidation of support at two bases (down from five) and to the relative
increase in parts availability from supporting a smaller number of aircraft.
The Air Force maintains that lawmakers failed to provide the $1.1 billion it would actually cost to support the aircraft through 2009. (See “Washington Watch,” p. 11.)
Air Force Association
September 2003 Vol. 86, No. 9