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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

B-1B Losses

The most recent accident involving a B-1 bomber appears to have occured on Friday 04 April 2008, according to an initial report filed by Lolita C. Baldor of The Associated Press. According to her reporting, the U.S. military said a B-1 bomber had crashed at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. The US Air Force said in a statement that "A US Air Force B-1 while taxing after landing at al Udeid was involved in a ground incident and caught fire at 2110 local time... The crew evacuated the aircraft and is safe. The fire was contained..." Initial reports suggested that the bomber hit something while taxiing, causing an explosion. The extent of damage to the aircraft was not immediately apparent from news reports. The B-1 bomber was from Ellsworth Air Force Base. Air operations at Al Udeid were shut down.

It was subsequently reported that a a hydraulic failure caused the B-1B Lancer bomber to veer off the runway at Al Udeid and catch fire, setting off its bombs, leading to a series of explosions. This series of loud explosions was heard in many parts of Doha, and people living near the air base said the blasts shook the ground, causing them to flee their homes, assuming that an earthquake had struck.

This was the latest in a series of mishaps involving the B-1B Lancer.

  • On 19 August 2013, a B-1B Lancer assigned to the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth AFB, SD, crashed near Broadus, Mont., during a routine training mission. The aircraft's crew of two pilots and two weapon systems officers safely ejected with some injuries.
  • On 20 March 2008, crews from Box Elder and Ellsworth extinguished several grass fires that were apparently caused by a B-1 that made an emergency landing at the base.
  • On 08 March 2008, an Ellsworth-based B-1 collided with two emergency-response vehicles after landing after reporting an in-flight emergency at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. The B-1 had turned back to Andersen AFB, Guam, after the crew reported a hydraulic leak. After the crew safely landed the plane and got out, due to concerns about fire, the bomber rolled into a pair of parked fire trucks. The aircraft was returning to Ellsworth after participating in the Singapore Air Show.
  • In August 2007, a B-1 made an emergency landing at Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan, after an engine caught fire.
  • In September 2005, a B-1 caught fire after landing at Andersen because leaking hydraulic fluid came in contact with hot brakes.
  • In May 2005, the aircrew of a B-1 landing at Diego Garcia, an atoll in the Indian Ocean, forgot to lower the jet's landing gear, sending the plane skidding down the runway for several thousand feet.

The second B-1A prototype (74-1059) crashed during the aircraft's development program on August 29, 1984. The crash occurred when control of the aircraft was lost during an aft center of gravity test. The Rockwell test pilot died when the ejection module sufferred a malfunction in the parachute system that caused the module to impact in a right nose low attitude. Two of the other crewmembers also present in the module survived.

The first B-1B [84-0052] crash after the aircraft became operational in 1986 was on 28 September 1987 at La Junta, near near Pueblo Colorado. Two of those killed were instructors who were not in ejection seats and did not have time to bail out manually. A third crewman, the co-pilot, died because his ejection seat malfunctioned. Three surviving crew members bailed out successfully. The bomber from Dyess AFB was flying a low level training mission about 600 feet above the ground at a speed of 560 knots [about 645 mph] when the plane struck a 15-to-20-pound North America white pelican. The bird tore through a wing, ripping apart critical hydraulic, electrical and fuel lines. This started a fire which maded it impossible for the pilot to control the plane. The Air Force subsequently hardened the vulnerable area on the remaining B-1s. Individual B-1Bs were restricted from high-speed, low-altitude flight below 5,000 ft. above ground level until bird strike protection kits were installed, with all modifications completed by December 1988. The modifications are designed to withstand the impact of a 10-lb. bird at 590 kt. The B-1B was originally designed to withstand strikes by birds weighing up to six pounds.

The second B-1B [85-0063] crash occured on 08 November 1988 at Dyess AFB. The plane had been practicing "touch-and-go" landings for almost two hours when the accident occured. A fire in the left wing knocked out two of the plane's four engines and burned out critical control equipment. All four crewmen parachuted to safety. Air Force investigators were unable to determine with certainty what caused the fire. An engine fuel feed line design deficiency allowed the fuel in the overwing fairing to migrate into the compartment containing the environmental system precooler, which reaches temperatures sufficient to provide ignition. The failure occurred in the same area that was reinforced to reduce the aircraft's vulnerability to bird strikes, a fix mandated after the B-1B crash on 28 September 1987. The crash at Dyess was followed just nine days later by another B-1B crash at Ellsworth AFB.

The third B-1B [85-0076] crash happened on approach to Runway 31 at Ellsworth AFB, SD on 17 November 1988. The four crewmen aboard ejected and escaped injury. The aircraft struck three wooden poles, a high-voltage power line and an approach light stanchion about 2,900 feet from the approach end of the runway. The Air Force concluded that the pilot and co-pilot had lost track of altitude as they tried to line up their landing approach in heavy overcast. The crash left the Air Force with only 97 aircraft of the 100 initially produced.

A B-1B [86-0106] assigned to the 96th Wing at Dyess AFB crashed on 30 November 1992 [sometimes reported as 01 December], killing all of its crew. The aircraft crashed 300 feet below a 6,500-foot ridge line approximately 36 miles south-southwest of Van Horn, Texas south of El Paso. The bomber was on a routine low-level night sortie, flying parallel to and several hundred feet below the rim of an extended ridge in Texas. The B-1 started a left turn in the direction of the ridge twenty-eight seconds before impact. At 13 seconds before impact, the automatic terrain following system aboard the aircraft generated a "flyup" -- part of the bomber's terrain-following system. Just prior to the crash crew members manually interrupted the B-1's "generated flyup" feature. The Air Force attributed the crash to pilot error.

A B-1B [85-0078] crash near near Alzada, Montana on 19 September 1997 killed four crew members. The plane [call-sign Fury 02] belonged to the 28th Bomb Wing's 37th Bomb Squadron, and was on a training mission out of Ellsworth AFB, MT. The crash was caused by an excessive sink rate that developed while the crew was performing an authorized, often-practiced defensive maneuver. The pilot had slowed and made a sharp turn at low altitude during a defensive countermeasures and simulated bombing mission, when the aircraft struck the ground, killing all four crewmembers.

A B-1B [84-0057 "Hellion"] Lancer crash on 18 February 1998 near Marion, KY resulted from a short circuit that shut down all four engines during a low-level training mission. While executing the engine shutdown checklist to secure number three, a short circuit occurred in the Fire Warning Extinguisher Panel resulting in an uncommanded shutdown of the remaining three engines. The plane had taken off shortly after 9 AM from Dyess AFB, Texas, and was on a routine training mission when the crash occurred. All four crewmembers ejected safely from the aircraft, which was not carrying any munitions. At the time of the accident, the aircraft was flying at approximately 20,000 feet. Apparently one of the eight aircraft assigned to the 366th Air Expeditionary Wing's 34th Bomb Squadron based at Mountain Home AFB, ID was transferred to the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess to make up for this inventory loss.

The Pentagon reported on 12 December 2001 that a B-1B bomber had crashed in the Indian Ocean near the air base on the island of Diego Garcia. All four of the crew, with the 28th Bomb Wing, were later rescued. The loss of B-1B #74 (86-0114, Live Free Or Die, also previously known as Wolfhound) was not due to combat damage and it is said that the aircraft was leaving Diego Garcia and heading North towards targets in Afghanistan. This represented the seventh loss of a B-1B, and the eighth crash since the B-1 program began. A total of 92 B-1B Lancer bombers were in service as of 12 December 2001 [in addition to the eight losses due to accidents, one B-1B was eliminated under provisions of the START arms control agreement]. On Sept. 24, 2002 Air Force investigators determined that cause of the crash of a B-1B Lancer bomber into the Indian Ocean on Dec.12 remains unknown. An Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board report stated that aircraft malfunctions affecting the reliability of the pilots' attitude information might have made it difficult for the pilots to maintain control of the aircraft.

The USAF announced on Jan. 4, 2005, that B-1 Lancers Air Force-wide were grounded after one aircraft's nose-gear collapsed at a forward-deployed location supporting operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, Air Combat Command officials said Jan. 4. Durin gthe incident, after landing safely at the deployed location, the pilot taxied the aircraft to its parking spot. When the engines were shut down, the nose landing gear collapsed. No one was injured in the incident. The aircraft and its four-person crew were deployed from the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., to the 40th Air Expeditionary Group. The B-1B Lancer fleet was returned to flight status on Jan. 5, 2005, following a six-day grounding.

On 08 May 2006, a 7th Bomb Wing B-1B Lancer (Tail Number 86132 - called "Oh! Hard Luck") based at Dyess AFB, Texas, made a wheels-up belly landing at Diego Garcia, skidding 7,500 feet down the runway. The aircraft was landing at the end of an 11 hour ferry mission that started at Andersen AFB, Guam. During the landing, the B-1B caught fire and emergency crews extinguished the flames. The four-person aircrew escaped from the plane through the overhead escape hatch. The aircraft was removed from the runway four days later. The Air Force Accident Investigation concluded the pilots forgot to lower the landing gear. The Air Force estimated the damage to the B-1B at $7.9 million. (Tail Number 86132 - called "Oh! Hard Luck")

Cumulative - Initial Nine Years of Flight
B-1B B-52F/FB-111B-58B-47
Class A Number834 51 15214
Class A Rate5.79 2.367.768.545.67
Aircraft Destroyed4 254215148
Destroyed Rate2.89 1.746.398.543.92
(Source: Logan, Don. Rockwell B-1B: SAC's Last Bomber
Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military/Aviation History. 1995; p. 142)

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Page last modified: 19-08-2013 19:34:49 ZULU