The U.S. Air Force has announced plans to retire 17 B-1B Lancer long-range bombers during Fiscal Year 2021.
The Scramble Magazine reported on Wednesday, citing the U.S. Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Estimates, that more B-1B Lancers will be retired during 2021.
The Dutch aviation publication also added that on 17 September 2019, Gen. Goldfein said that over the last few years the USAF flew the B-1B in its least optimal configuration. The result of that are stresses on the aircraft that were not anticipated for its airframe. As a result, the Lancer fleet sees significant structural issues during depot maintenance. The B-1B averages 9,701 airframe hours as of January 2020.
The B-1 is a highly versatile, multi-mission weapon system. The B-1B’s blended wing/body configuration, variable-geometry wings and turbofan afterburning engines, combine to provide long-range, maneuverability and high speed while enhancing survivability.
For the past 18 years, the B-1B Lancer has seen combat and has been referred to as a workhorse. Subsequently, years of deployed operations in the Middle East and Afganistan left their mark on the state of the entire fleet of aircraft.
The Military.com said that the B-1’s long-planned retirement timeframe is a key component to effective fleet management during the transition to the B-21. The Air Force will gradually retire B-1s, beginning with the most costly and structurally deficient of the airframes. By adopting a phased retirement approach, this will allow overlap between legacy and next-generation bombers.