Editor’s Note: Like many others in the inventory, one of our very favorite airplanes has been extremely busy over the past decade-plus and is in need of a break, also of upgrade. The Rockwell (now Boeing) B-1B Lancer is now enjoying some much-needed time off. While crews refresh and retrain, the jets will also be getting the Block 16 upgrade. We had the opportunity to get a tour of an upgraded B-1 during Red Flag period 16-1, and it’s awesome!
The planes and personnel at Ellsworth Air Force Base are getting a break after 11 years of continual B-1 bomber jet deployments.
Members of an Ellsworth squadron finished a six-month deployment in January, and for the first time since 2005, no other B-1s from Ellsworth or Dyess Air Force Base in Texas flew out to the U.S. Central Command’s Area of Responsibility to replace the returning squadron.
The reprieve from action will give the Air Force time to upgrade its Bones, at a cost of nearly $1 billion, and also give exhausted crews time to refresh and retrain.
The 20-country area of B-1 deployments includes war-torn locations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, where B-1s have dropped thousands of bombs in the war on terror. The recently returned Ellsworth squadron dropped about 5,000 munitions during its six-month deployment, which was the most by any B-1 squadron during the missions of the past 11 years.
During that stretch, the deployment rotation included Ellsworth’s two bomber squadrons and one at Dyess, with each one performing a six-month deployment followed by one year at home. A deployed force typically numbered about 500 to 700.
The commander at Ellsworth, Col. Gentry Boswell, described the past 11 years as the busiest stretch in Ellsworth’s history and said achievements against enemies such as the Islamic State group were many. But those achievements came at a cost.
The original article at the Rapid City Journal can be viewed right here.
(Featured photo by Scott Wolff)