Air Force Decommissions B-1B Legacy Bombers Amid Fleet Modernization

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B-1B Lancer
B-1B Lancer at Edwards AF Base

A major command of the U.S. Air Force has wrapped up the retirement of 17 B-1B Lancer planes as the service branch moves toward adopting a Northrop Grumman-built bomber aircraft.

Air Force Global Strike Command said Friday it flew the last Lancer for decommissioning to an aircraft boneyard at Davis-Monthan AF Base in Arizona and the move will allow its maintenance crew to focus more on the health of the remaining 45 units in the active B-1B inventory.

“Beginning to retire these legacy bombers allows us to pave the way for the B-21 Raider,” said Brig. Gen. Kenyon Bell, director of logistics and engineering at AFGSC.

Bell added that keeping the now-retired Lancers would have cost the Air Force as much as $30 million per unit in maintenance costs until the next-generation aircraft enters service.

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said at the Air, Space & Cyber Conference that efforts are underway to assemble five test articles of the Long Range Strike Bomber.

The branch also awarded Rolls-Royce a $2.6 billion contract to provide replacement engines for B-52H Stratofortress bomber fleet as part of modernization efforts.