Squadron Service - 2001 to present

On September 20th 2001, in response to the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon on September 11th, the 34th Bomb Squadron departed Mountain Home AFB for the short hop for Ellsworth AFB. There the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron was formed from the 34th and 37th Bomb Squadrons. Lt Col Tom Arko was placed in command. The 34th EBS departed Ellsworth on September 24th for a 26-hour flight to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. A total of eight aircraft were deployed by the 28th Bomb Wing.

The 40th AEW was deployed to Diego Garcia on September 14th 2001, although it has no aircraft at that point.

Starting on October 7th 2001, B-1Bs from the 34th EBS carried out strikes on targets in Afghanistan as part of Operation "Enduring Freedom". The weapon used was the 2000lb GBU-31 JDAM.

A B-1B from the 419th Test Squadron at Edwards AFB began a new round of electronic warfare testing in the Benefield Anechoic Facility in mid-October 2001 to test an improved electronic combat system, which is a combination of parts of the existing DAS, a new radar warning receiver and the Integrated Defensive Electronic Countermeasure System, a joint USAF-US Navy program. The testing program was completed in mid-November 2001.

At 16:30 GMT on December 12th 2001 B-1B 86-0114 "Live Free Or Die", callsign "Icecube 44", from the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron crashed into the Indian Ocean about 55 nautical miles north of the island of Diego Garcia. The aircraft was destroyed upon impact and sank.

The aircraft, with Capt William Steele in command, was outbound from Diego Garcia on an Operation "Enduring Freedom" mission, but about 100 nm to the north of the island the aircraft suffered an engine failure. The crew declared an emergency and started to return to Diego Garcia. However, other systems started dropping offline and they were down to one generator. Then the attitude indicator failed so they couldn't tell if they were flying level or not. At this point they ejected from an altitude of around 15000 feet, during which they sustained cuts and bruises. Two of the crew were from the 28th Bomb Wing and the other two were from the 366th Wing (see AIB report).

A KC-10 Extender on an unrelated mission picked up the distress call, headed towards the B-1's last known location and began a search. The KC-10 and a P-3C Orion circled the area and guided the destroyer USS "Russell" towards the crew. After about 2 hours in the water Captain Steele and the other three crew members (names were not given) were rescued by sailors in a boat despatched from the "Russell".

The eight B-1Bs at Diego Garcia dropped over 1700 tonnes of munitions during Operation "Enduring Freedom" (to mid-December 2001), including 60% of all JDAMS used during the campaign. Assuming a bombload of 16-24 JDAMS between 80 and 100 missions would have been flown. JDAM was the primary, but not the only, weapon used by the Lancers.

During the second half of December 2001 the 28th Expeditionary Bomb Wing moved out of Diego Garcia and into Thumrait AB in Oman. This was done to reduce the time taken to get to the operational area; Diego Garcia is over 2200 miles from Afghanistan. Once in Oman the B-1Bs came under the control of the 405th AEW. Elements of the 9th, 13th and 28th Bomb Squadrons from the 7th Bomb Wing, the 77th BS from the 28th BW and the 126th BS from the Georgia ANG also came under 405th AEW control.

In one B-1B mission on January 3rd 2002, four Lancers together with four F/A-18s and an AC-130 gunship devastated a large al-Qaeda cave complex at Zhawar Kili in eastern Afghanistan.

During their 101-day deployment, the 34th EBS flew 4120 hours during 369 combat sorties, and dropped 6.9 million pounds of ordnance. This comprised 2974 JDAMs, 1471 Mk82, 135 Mk84 and 70 CBU-87 bombs. Their combat mission effectiveness was greater than 95%, they flew 5% of the total strike missions, and dropped 39% of the total tonnage of bombs. The latter was more than any other platform. During one mission, a B-1B four-ship dropped 96 JDAMs inside 20 minutes, the largest precision strike ever made. Not all missions resulted in the delivery or ordnance: on some occasions Lancers were requested to perform low-level high-speed passes over enemy troops. The resulting noise and vibration would have had a powerful psychological effect on those on the receiving end!

Members of the 13th Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess AFB were deployed on January 14th 2002 to support Operation "Enduring Freedom" as part of the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron. They performed most notably in Operation "Anaconda".

The attempt to recover the wreckage of 86-0114 which crashed into the Indian Ocean on December 12th 2001 began on January 15th 2002 when a US Navy SWATH was flown by a C-5B Galaxy 84-0060 to Diego Garcia. The SWATH towed a side-scanned sonar over the crash site. The results of this were negative, and no wreckage was salvaged. The Republic of Korea Navy assisted the US Navy in this operation.

B-1B 86-0123, assigned to the 9th Bomb Squadron at Dyess, was chosen by the 7th Bomb Wing to receive the USAF's special  Let's Roll!  nose art on February 15th 2002. This nose art is being used to continue the remembrance of the events of September 11th 2001 and pay tribute to the heroes and victims of the war against terrorism.

The consolidation of B-1Bs at two bases began in early 2002. The Kansas ANG's 127th Bomb Squadron gave up 86-0115 to the active Air Force on February 28th 2002. Of the squadron's ten remaining aircraft, nine had gone by October 2002 and one was kept for a static display.

Remarkably, around a third of B-1Bs may have been grounded because of problems with the repair and maintenance of electrical generators. When Sacramento Air Logistics Center was closed in 1999, Oklahoma City ALC inherited responsibility for supply of generators, while Ogden ALC, 1400 miles away, was given responsibility for repairing them. By 2001 around 22000 hours were "lost" as a result of generator shortage, equivalent to roughly a third of Lancer fleet. Eventually, OCALC got its act together with Ogden, changed contractor, changed procedures and rewrote manuals, and by February 2002 serviceable generators were available off the shelf.

According to General Daniel P. Leaf, director of operational requirements for air and space operations at the Pentagon, the B-1B is "tailor-made" for Operation "Enduring Freedom". In that operation, the B-1B has dropped nearly 40% of the ordnance while flying only 5% of the sorties. The General said, "The picture that is etched into my mind about the B-1 is the picture of an Afghan mountainside and a string of JDAMs marching down a trench line. I would venture to say (that) at some point in the conflict the massed JDAM employment by the B-1s is when Taliban and al-Qaeda leadership thought to themselves 'we're not fighting the Soviet Union. This is a different, extraordinarily more capable enemy'. That's played a very big part in the rout of the Taliban and al-Qaeda"

The General went on to say that 10 years ago the thought of using the B-1/JDAM combination in direct support of ground forces would not have been taken seriously. He continued, "The truth of the matter is that we like the airplane, but we want it to be as capable as it can be. It's a great airplane with a great future. That's why we are shrinking down to 60 - not to get rid of it, but to make sure that the ones we have are as capable as they need to be, whether the conflict is in Afghanistan or elsewhere."

On May 2nd 2002 B-1B 85-0090 from the 412th Test Wing successfully targeted three different weapons types against three separate targets in a single 20-second bombing run at Edwards AFB. As part of a computer upgrade test program, the B-1B released one 2000lb Mk84, three 500lb Mk82s and four 1000lb CBU-89 cluster munitions. Each struck targets about 10000 ft apart. This was apparently the first time in USAF history that an aircraft's on-board weapons system used multiple weapon types against multiple targets, automatically releasing munitions at the proper time in a single bombing run. In 2003, testing will begin to integrate the Joint Standoff Missile and the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile with the B-1B. At the same time, new upgraded computer systems will be installed.

On May 9th 2002 the last B-1B to be modified to Block D configuration left the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker AFB.

On June 6th 2002 a B-1B flying from Edwards AFB with a Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force crew successfully targetted three versions of the wind-corrected munitions dispensers (CBU-103, CBU-104 and CBU-105) against separate targets. On June 10th the crew successfully targetted three different weapon types (including precision-guided weapons) against four different targets in a single, 20-second bomb pass. The June 10th test involved a GBU-31 2000lb JDAM, one Mk82 500lb iron bomb, and two CBU-105 WCMDs. Each wespon struck a separate target ranging from 300 to 4000 feet apart.

"This is a tremendous addition to the B-1's already impressive arsenal", said Col. Gregory Feest, ACC deputy director of requirements. "It will provide the joint force air component commander a B-1 capable of holding much larger target areas at risk and greatly enhance his strike options".

June 22nd 2002 saw the end of an era for the Georgia ANG's 116th Bomb Wing at Robins AFB. Under a dark, overcast sky, pilots with the 116th taxied their B-1B bombers in front of a hangar and shut down the engines for their last training exercise in the aircraft. "This is kind of a sad day for us," said Tech. Sgt. Mark Shaw, a maintenance supervisor with the 116th who has worked on B-1s since the Air Force first introduced them. "I've got so many years with the airplane, it's hard to see it go." The six B-1Bs still at Robins were flown out in the next few weeks by aircrews from the 7th BW at Dyess AFB, Texas.

On June 25th 2002 B-1B 85-0082 restarted Block F flight testing with the ALE-55 decoy. The first decoy was deployed and towed, maintaining electrical and fiber optic continuity for over two hours. A second decoy was then deployed maintaining continuity for a duration of approximately an hour and a half. The conditions flown were typical of those needed to progress into Reduction in Lethality (RiL) testing. These initial results are a significant milestone in achieving the goals of the B-1B Defensive System Upgrade Program.

Also on June 25th, the Macon "Telegraph" carried a story about a report being prepared by the U.S. General Accounting Office which said that it didn't make economic or military sense to take B-1 bombers away from Guard units, as they have more experienced personnel, maintain the supersonic bombers better and fly them cheaper than active duty units.

The GAO's draft report was highly critical of how the Air Force made its decision to restructure the B-1B fleet, and said that surviving the next round of base closures was one factor that Air Force leaders considered in moving Guard B-1Bs to Dyess AFB and Ellsworth AFB. According to the report, the Air Force told the GAO that if they didn't choose Ellsworth for one of the B-1B bases, it would have no mission and would be vulnerable in the 2005 round of base closures. The B-1B operation is the largest mission at Dyess, and Air Force planners said removal of the B-1Bs there would leave it vulnerable to closure. Among the GAO's findings were:

Unfortunately, this came too late for the 116th and 184th Bomb Wings.

Two B-1Bs from the 28th Bomb Wing, 83-0065 and 86-0101, attended the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford from July 18th to 22nd 2002.

The final three B-1Bs assigned to the 184th Bomb Wing left McConnell AFB on Sunday 4th August 2002. One of these was 85-0069 "Home Improvement", which had not flown since May 2001 and was being used as a source of spares. A faulty speed brake was fixed in time for the final flight. Two of the aircraft went to Dyess AFB, and the other to Ellsworth AFB.

By August 12th 2002 B-1B operations had ceased at McConnell, Robins amd Mountain Home AFBs. McConnell and Robins have begun transferring aircraft to Ellsworth and Dyess. All seven of the B-1s that were originally at Mountain Home AFB had moved to Ellsworth.

Transfered to Dyess from Ellsworth are Detachment 1 of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School and Detachment 2 of the 53rd Test and Evaluation Group. The detachments train B-1 instructors and perform B-1 operational tests and evaluations. The move to Dyess consolidates all B-1 aircrew training at one location.

The consolidation plan called for 12 Air National Guard B-1s to transfer to Dyess. Of the 52 planes that Dyess will then have in its fleet, 12 (the FY83 and most of the FY84 models) are slated to be stored at the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ. Twelve more aircraft, presumably from Ellsworth, also went to AMARC. Another eight from Dyess were sent to bases for static displays, including one at the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

Of the 24 aircraft which went to AMARC, 14 were cannibalised for spares, and the other 10 are held in inviolate storage.

B-1Bs will be displayed at the following locations: Mountain Home AFB (83-0066), Tinker AFB (83-0071), Wright-Patterson AFB (USAF Museum; 84-0051), Ellsworth AFB (83-0067), Robins AFB (83-0069), McConnell AFB (83-0068), Hill AFB (83-0070) and Dyess AFB (Linear Air Park; 83-0065).

The first B-1B to be retired, 84-0056 "Sweet Sixteen" from the 7th Bomb Wing, arrived at Davis-Monthan AFB on August 20th 2002 en route to AMARC for storage. It was followed by 85-0062 "Enraged" on August 21st.

B-1B 84-0051 arrived at Wright-Patterson AFB on September 10th 2002. It will be added to the US Air Force Museum's collection.

On September 18th 2002 the 34th Bomb Squadron arrived from Mountain Home AFB. Due to the reduction in the B-1B fleet the 77th Bomb Squadron was inactivated and replaced by the 34th BS in the 28th Bomb Wing.

The last B-1B from the Georgia ANG's 116th BW, 85-0092 "Apocalypse", left Robins AFB for the boneyard on September 17th 2002. There was no fanfare with the departure of 5092, only a gathering of about two dozen pilots and mechanics who watched as the B-1B took off, then circled around for a slow pass over the Robins runway. The bomber rocked its wings in farewell as the jet passed over the 116th complex at the end of the runway.

On September 24th 2002 the USAF released the ACC's Accident Investigation Board report on the cause of the crash of B-1B Lancer 86-0114 on December 12th 2001. The board was unable to determine the complete cause of the crash because no wreckage of the aircraft was recovered from the Indian Ocean.

However, the board concluded that the plane's electrical generators played a role. After the aircraft reached its cruising altitude, an "Oil Hot" warning system came on. After shutting down an engine to cool it down, the crew shut off its generator and aborted the mission. During the return to Diego Garcia, a second generator failed, cutting power to the aircraft's navigation system. The crew turned on emergency power generators, but soon afterwards realised that they were not getting reliable information on the plane's altitude and position. A secondary navigation system gave three different readings. During the last minute of the flight, the aircraft lost 20000 feet in altitude and gained speed. It was then that the crew determined that the aircraft was out of control and banged out.

On October 5th 2002 it was reported that Boeing had made unsolicited offers to Australia and the UK regarding a possible purchase of the 32 B-1Bs that the US Air Force is retiring. After both countries rejected the offers on grounds of cost, Boeing dropped the idea.

Three 7th Bomb Wing B-1Bs arrived at RAF Fairford on 15 Nov 2002 to take part in a Combined Qualified Weapons Instructors Course being held at RAF Lossiemouth. The aircraft were 85-0074 (13th Bomb Sqd), 86-0123 (9th Bomb Sqd) and 86-0124 (28th Bomb Sqd?). The latter was still wearing its old Georgia ANG markings.

The 28th Bomb Wing received orders at the end of December 2002 to prepare for deployment to the Persian Gulf region.

Three 28th BW B-1Bs left Ellsworth AFB on December 9th 2003 "en route" to the Persian Gulf region for possible military action against Iraq. More were due to follow, along with more than 500 personnel from Elsworth.

On Friday January 10th 2003 Col. Jonathan George assumed command of the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess AFB, taking over from Brig. Gen. Wendell Griffin, who had held the post for two years.

B-1Bs dropped around 21 bombs in twelve hours on January 27th 2003, after American forces patrolling 15 miles north of Spin Baldak in southern Afghanistan, and just a few miles from the Pakistan border, were fired upon by rebels. The B-1Bs backed up elements of the 82nd Airborne Division, and other air assets, which were sent to the area.

On February 3rd 2003 B-1B 83-0070 "7 Wishes" arrived at Hill AFB, Utah, where it will be put on display at the Hill Aerospace Museum.

In February 2003 it was reported that B-1Bs have been put on standby to deploy to Guam, to counter any military posturing from North Korea. The 28th BW is reported to have deployed about 20 aircraft to Thumrait in Oman.

B-1B 83-0065 "Star of Abiline", the first operational Lancer delivered to Dyess AFB, made its last flight on March 1st 2003 to Dyess AFB. The first Lancer will be put on display at the Linear Air Park at Dyess AFB. It flew more than 900 training missions for over 3700 hours. Lt Col Jeff Beene, who has logged 1600 hours in the "Star of Abiline", was part of the crew for the aircraft's last flight.

A number of B-1Bs from the 13th Bomb Squadron, 7th Bomb Wing were deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam on March 6th/7th 2003, in the face of rising tensions on the Korean peninsula and a potential war with Iraq. It was reported that 24 B-1Bs and B-52Hs were on Guam. In addition, Col. Jonathan George, 7th Bomb Wing commander, has been deployed to Guam to serve as commander of the 7th Air Expeditionary Wing.

A B-1B (probably from the 28th EBW) is reported to have struck two Iraqi radar systems in the southern no-fly zone on March 14th 2003. This was the first time that a B-1 had been used for this sort of mission. It appears that eleven B-1Bs, from the 34th and 37th Bomb Squadrons, were deployed to Thumrait AB in Oman for Operation "Iraqi Freedom".

B-1Bs took part in the massive air operations against Iraq which were flown on March 21st 2003 as part of Operation "Iraqi Freedom". The strikes marked the beginning of the air campaign portion of the operation. During the first phase of "Shock and Awe," 405th AEW commander, Col James Kowalski, said the 405th launched 10 Lancers and struck all their 240 planned targets with JDAMs. Since then, the wing conducted almost daily bombing missions as well as responding to calls for close air support from ground units.

On March 22nd 2003 four Iraqi GPS jammers were destroyed by JDAMs dropped from B-1B 86-0121 "Symphony of Destruction". The aircraft was supported by EA-6B Prowlers and F-16CJ HARM shooters as it penetrated the Baghdad "Super MEZ" at 27000 feet. The aircraft's crew defeated four SAMs and avoided heavy AAA fire.

Four members of the 405th AEW, deployed in Oman, described B-1B operations over Iraq in a teleconference with Pentagon reporters on March 25th 2003. The 405th wing's aircraft, primarily B-1Bs, have been on "surge operations" since March 21st, meaning that flying rates are much higher than normal.

On March 29th 2003, for the first time in military history, multiple B-1B Lancer, B-2 Spirit and B-52H Stratofortress long-range bombers targeted the same geographical area at the same time as part of a single strike package. After launching from separate bases, the bombers simultaneously struck leadership and command and control targets of the Iraqi regime in Baghdad using precision munitions.

On March 31st 2003, while conducting a combat mission over Iraq, a malfuction on B-1B 86-0129 prevented the release of all bombs from the aft weapons bay. The aircraft and crew were assigned to the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, 405th Air Expeditionary Wing. The cause of the incident was determined to be the failure of two rivets on an ejector rack in the conventional rotary launcher (CRL), caused by the loading of an un-level bomb. When the bomb was released, it impacted the transformer-rectifier (TR), power supply, aft bay doors and aft weapons bay spopiler. The TR broke free of its mounting points but swung round and caused irrepairable damage to the CRL. Damage was estimated at over $1.2 million (see AIB report).

Between March 30th and April 2nd 2003 the B-1Bs assigned to the 7th Air Expeditionary Wing at Andersen AFB, Guam, flew 49 missions in a "sortie surge". 54 sorties were also flown by B-52Hs during this period. The Wing had been averaging 21 sorties over a three-day period before the surge started.

On April 7th 2003 B-1B 86-0138 "Seek and Destroy" struck a building in the al Mansour section of Baghdad with four 2000lb JDAMS, where a high-level Iraqi leadership meeting was believed to be ongoing. The strike happened at about 11:00 GMT (14:00 Baghdad time).

The four crew on board were Capt. Chris Wachter, aircraft commander; Capt. Sloan Hollis, pilot; 1st Lt. Joe Runci, weapons systems officer; and Lt. Col. Fred Swan, weapons systems officer. They delivered four GBU-31s in the strike. Two penetrating versions with delayed fusing struck first, followed by two standard versions with delayed fusing. This bomb mix was chosen to achieve the desired effect of destroying the building while minimizing collateral damage. Unfortunately, the intelligence was wrong and eighteen Iraqi civilians were killed.

The aircraft approached the target at 25000 feet at a speed of between 400 and 500 knots. It was supported by four SEAD-tasked F-16CJ Fighting Falcons, and a US Navy EA-6B Prowler for radar jamming.

According to Lt Col Swan, the B-1B was engaged in midair refueling when a call came from an airborne control aircraft telling them "this is the big one" and directing them to the new priority target. "I knew it was important, so it really doesn't matter who was attending the high-level meeting," he said. "We've got to get the bombs on target, and we've got 10 minutes to do it."

"They [B-1Bs] have a mission-capable rate in theater of over 90 percent", said Air Force Col. James M. Kowalski, the 405th Air Expeditionary Wing commander. The colonel said the unit had had B-1Bs airborne over Iraq since before Operation Iraqi Freedom started, and they are there 24 hours a day, seven days a week. "At any given time I have an airplane up there flying over Iraq, I've got an airplane heading up, and I've got an airplane heading home," he said.

On April 21st 2003 the crew which flew the mission on April 7th received the Distinguished Flying Cross from Lt Gen T. Michael Moseley, the Operation Iraqi Freedom Combined Forces Air Component commander. During the 11-hour mission the crew struck 17 separate targets using two different types of PGM. Following the strike against the leadership target in Baghdad, the crew struck 6 more targets within 15 minutes. Then, with 14 weapons and about 20 minutes of loiter fuel left, the crew received nine more targets (a SAM site) in Tikrit. They successfully struck all nine in one pass, again within 15 minutes of receiving the target co-ordinates.

As of May 8th 2003, B-1Bs had flown 497 sorties in Operations "Enduring Freedom" and "Iraqi Freedom", and had dropped 4.56 million lb (2035 tonnes) of ordnance. In OIF alone, from March 21st to May 1st 2003, Lancers flew 213 sorties and dropped 2159 JDAMs. This was 43% of the JDAMs dropped during the campaing, and 22% of all the guided weapons used throughout the conflict.

On May 13th 2003 six B-1Bs from the 37th Bomb Squadron (including 86-0095 and 86-0013) returned to Ellsworth AFB from Oman.

According to a May 15th 2003 story in the Abilene Reporter-News, B-1 supporters in the US Congress were seeking $20 million in the 2004 Defence Budget to resurrect 23 of the B-1Bs retired to AMARC in 2002.

On May 23rd 2003 the US Senate passed an amendment to reverse the DoD decision to decommission 23 B-1 bombers. The amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill authorizes an additional $20.3 million to begin reconstituting the fleet of 23 B-1 bombers.

Senators Daschle and Johnson (who both represent South Dakota) said the amendment would rebuild the bomber fleet toward the level recommended in the last comprehensive review of bomber needs, the U.S. Air Force White Paper on Long Range Bombers. That report determined that 93 B-1s were needed to protect U.S. national security interests until a replacement capability was available. Given the decommissioning work that is already well underway on some aircraft, the senators said their amendment would take the total to 83 B-1s, which is the most that can be realistically activated.

In May 2003 the 7th Bomb Wing recorded a 76.1% monthly mission-capable rate, marking the 12th straight month Dyess had eclipsed the command standard of 67%. In the process, the 7th BW became the first B-1 unit to accomplish this mission ready milestone.

On June 17th 2003 a B-1B test crew from the Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force at Edwards AFB achieved a flight-test first when they released a Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) for the first time. Maj William Libby was the aircraft commander, along with pilot Maj Mike Contratto and WSO Maj Jeffery Wharton. The team also performed tests using the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, or JASSM. The missile testing is relying on the B-1B's new Block E1 avionics software for the first part of the test program. The CTF is evaluating the Block E1 software as part of a separate test program.

On August 21st 2003 a USAF accident investigation board report concluded that an uneven bomb load caused two rivets on a B-1's ejector rack to fail during a mission on March 31st 2003. The malfunction damaged the aircraft, causing $1.3m worth of damage, but did not result in an accidental release of munitions, other loss or injury. The crew and aircraft were assigned to the 28th BW. At the time of the incident, they were assigned to the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron.

On September 22nd 2003 Senators Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Tim Johnson (D-SD) announced that the final Defense Department Appropriations bill will include language preventing the Department of Defense (DOD) from decommissioning 23 B-1 bombers. The Defense Appropriations bill was expected to be voted on by the Senate and the House of Representatives and then sent to the President by September 26th. Under the terms of the new appropriations bill, the Air Force will receive an additional $17 million, allowing it to keep an additional 23 B-1Bs in service. The fleet would then consist of 83 planes.

On September 25th 2003 a B-1B from Dyess AFB was forced to make an emergency landing at the base after a bird strike holed a fuel tank, causing a 1000-gallon fuel leak. The crew was returning from a low-level training mission when the birdstrike occured.

On October 7th 2003 crews from the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess began a "surge" in flying operations (Operation "Iron Thunder"). Over the next 68 hours, crews pushed their B-1B Lancers to a record-breaking 114 flights resulting in 321 simulated bombing runs on targets. Of the 114 flights, 107 were deemed "effective," meaning that if each B-1B had carried a full load of 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions, they would have put more than 2,500 bombs on target in less than three days.

Eighteen B-1Bs and about 120 crewmembers played a part in the surge. The airmen flew missions over four ranges in Texas, New Mexico and Kansas. The missions were typical of those flown during operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

On October 25th and 26th 2003 412th TW B-1B 85-0068 set 48 new world records during the Edwards AFB Open House and Air Show.

New speed records were set in the National Aeronautic Association's C-1Q class (150000kg and above) while flying 100km, 500km and 1000km closed circuit. New records were also set in the C.1P class (below 150000kg) over the same distances. The aircraft carried the maximum amount of inert Mk82 500lb bombs while setting the records. The last record set was a 15-km speed dash flown at about Mach 1.2. In addition, four existing records were broken over the weekend.

On the Saturday, the B-1Bís speeds were recorded by the NAA as follows: 100-km course, 644 mph; 500-km course, 694 mph; 1,000-km course, 685 mph and the 15-km speed dash, 679 mph.

On the Sunday, the bomberís speeds were recorded by the NAA as follows: 100-km course, 659 mph; 500-km course, 642 mph; 1,000-km course, 630 mph and the 15-km speed dash, 805.5 mph.

The crew of 85-0068 on 25th October were : Capt. Jeremy "Shaggy" Agte, Maj. Hans "Lucky" Miller, Maj. Wim "Jiffy" Libby and Maj. Brian "Professor" Tom. On the 26th October, 85-0068 was crewed by Maj. Rod "RodTod" Todaro, Maj. Rich "Toad" Recker, Maj. Jeff "Sportin" Wharton and Maj. Troy "Trasher" Asher.

When the 13th BS returned from Guam, the 7th Bomb Wing Commander charged Lt. Col. Pete Holcomb, 13th Bomb Squadron Director of Operations, with devising and running the first ever "Iron Thunder" surge. His audacious plan called for scheduling 120 missions over three days. If the idea of executing 75 sorties in such a short period of time was laughable to some, even more so was the stated objective of flying 90 percent, or 108 sorties. The crews began on October 7th 2003, flying sorties around the clock until late in the night of October 9th. In a tremendous effort, the 7th BW crews pushed their B-1Bs to a record-breaking 114 flights in 68 hours resulting in 321 simulated bombing runs on targets.

On October 30th the B-1B B-1B Lancer Combined Test Force at Edwards successfully released an AGM-158 JASSM separation test vehicle over the China Lake range. This followed the successful release of an inert AGM-154 JSOW on June 17th.

Integration of JSOW and JASSM testing was advantageous for the test team due to the fact that both are stand-off weapons in the same weight class that deploy wings after release and fly a preplanned route to the target. The JSOW is a glide weapon with an approximate 60-mile range at high altitudes and the JASSM has its own propulsion system providing a range in excess of 230 miles.

Compatibility between the JSOW, JASSM and JDAM means that mixed loads can be carried in each weapons bay, which wasn't possible with earlier weapons.

In early December 2003 a 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron crew led by Capt. Matt Brown aboard aircraft 86-0121 "Symphony of Destruction" set a set a new record for the longest B-1B combat mission while deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The sortie lasted 21 hours 42 minutes and involved six aerial refuellings. The mission was extended while the aircraft was in the air, as mission planners needed the B-1's weapons to complete the mission, and no other B-1s were available in time.

Retirement is approaching (January 2004) for 84-0049, a veteran flight-test B-1B at Edwards AFB. Aircraft 85-0075 is currently being wired up to replace it. The aircraft is expected to support PFS 4.2 and later, the Boeing SB10 effort (SB stands for Sustaining Block, which is the new terminology for mini-block updates that fall between major ones, such as Block D and E. SB10 is the first such update, and an SB11 is in the planning stages.)

85-0075 will be fitted with the Boeing High Desert Assembly, Integration, and Test Centerís (HDAIT's) new digital Wideband Instrumentation Processor/Recorder (WIPR), which retires the outdated wideband recording systems currently in A/C 84-0049 and 85-0068. The new wideband system is built upon the technology of the legendary Advanced ABDAS recording system.

It is not yet known what will happen to 84-0049. All other surviving FY84 aircraft are at AMARC.

On January 23rd 2004 the Abilene Reporter-News reported that six B-1Bs stationed at Dyess AFB had been upgraded to Block E standard, and that the rest of the B-1Bs at the base would be upgraded by September 2005. The first Block E aircraft were assigned to the 13th Bomb Squadron.

The Pentagon was considered proposal in its 2005 budget to cut Dyess AFBís 13th Bomb Squadron. The squadron's seven B-1 bombers would be shifted to other roles. Four would be reassigned to the 28th Bomb Squadron, which is the baseís training squadron for new B-1 pilots. The remaining three would be left at Dyess, but would serve only in a backup role.

At the Air Force Association's Air Warfare Symposium on February 12th 2004, Gen Hal Hornburg, ACC Commander, suggested the Air Force could bring seven or eight retired B-1Bs back into service in order to maintain an adequate number of combat, training, test and attrition reserve aircraft.

The US Congress allocated about $18 million in the FY2004 budget to return 23 B-1Bs back to service. But $18 million is hardly a down payment on the cost getting the jets back in the air. Hornburg said it would cost $3 billion to return the retired B-1Bs back to flying status. But the Air Force may bring eight or nine aircraft back to operational status.

B-1B 85-0066 "Get Your Kicks" from the 37th BS at Ellsworth AFB visited the Boeing facility at Long Beach, California on 24th February 2004 ("see picture, left, of aircraft and crew").

Two B-1Bs, 86-0108 and 85-0089, attended Asian Aerospace '04, held in Singapore from February 24th to February 29th 2004.

On February 27th 2004 B-1B 86-0139 operated by a 28th Bomb Wing crew and assigned to the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron ran off the runway at its forward operating location, causing $7.6 million worth of damage to all four engines and other systems. The ACC Accident Investigation Board concluded that standing water on the runway led to the accident, but there were other contributing factors including the co-pilots's early release of the controls used to counter crosswinds, a lack of runway surface grooving, and lack of communication between approach control and the aircraft's crew (see AIB report).

On March 19th/20th 2004 a 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron crew under the command of Maj. John Nichols flew a marathon mission over Afghanistan which included providing close air support to US ground troops, and also the destruction of a heroin cache.

The mission's original purpose was to patrol an area near Kandahar, but after 14 hours with no requests for assistance the B-1's crew was cleared to return to base.

After hearing a request for air support, the crew turned the aircraft round and made for the area where the hostile forces were located. After getting target co-ordinates from the joint terminal air controller (JTAC) the B-1B released three 2000lb JDAMs, destroying the hostile forces and also $6 million worth of heroin. The crew finally returned to base after 21.3 hours in the air.

On March 26th 2004 the B-1B Lancer Combined Test Force successfully released a Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile at the Utah Test and Training Range. The B-1B's crew also used the weapon's in-flight re-planning option to change targets after the weapon had been released. The JASSM is due to be fielded in the summer of 2004 following operational testing.

On April 9th 2004 operational testing of the B-1B's new weapons capability began, which evaluated from an operator's point of view mixed loads of weapons released in the developmental JJI (Joint Stadoff Weapon/Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Integration). Weapons released during operational testing included JASSM, JSWO, JDAM, Mk82 bombs, and WCMD CBU-103 and CBU-105. Testing was completed on May 25th 2004. Only two release envelope expansion missions remained to be tested, with completion expected in June 2004. June is also the start of SB10 ground tests that precede flight test later in 2004. The SB10 program introduces a number of maintenance upgrades and fixes into the B-1 CITS/EMUX/ORS/AFS/CNMS software family.

The records set by 85-0068 during the 2003 Edwards AFB Open House were officially ratified by the FAI on April 30th 2004.

Records set in Sub-class C-1p (take off weight 100000 to 150000 kg):

Circuit 0kg 1000kg 2000kg 5000kg 10000kg 15000kg 20000kg 25000kg
100km 1045.65 km/h 1045.65 km/h 1045.65 km/h 1045.65 km/h 1045.65 km/h 1045.65 km/h 1045.65 km/h 1045.65 km/h
500km 1036.71 km/h 1036.71 km/h 1036.71 km/h 1036.71 km/h 1036.71 km/h 1036.71 km/h 1036.71 km/h 1036.71 km/h
1000km 1016.20 km/h 1016.20 km/h 1016.20 km/h 1016.20 km/h 1016.20 km/h 1016.20 km/h 1016.20 km/h 1016.20 km/h

Speed over a straight 15/25 km course : 1300.47 km/h

Records set in Sub-class C-1q (take off weight 150000 to 200000 kg):

Circuit 0kg 1000kg 2000kg 5000kg 10000kg 15000kg 20000kg 25000kg
100km 1037.87 km/h 1037.87 km/h 1037.87 km/h 1037.87 km/h 1037.87 km/h 1037.87 km/h 1037.87 km/h 1037.87 km/h
500km 1123.63 km/h 1123.63 km/h 1123.63 km/h 1123.63 km/h 1123.63 km/h 1123.63 km/h 1123.63 km/h 1123.63 km/h
1000km 1105.68 km/h 1105.68 km/h 1105.68 km/h 1105.68 km/h 1105.68 km/h 1105.68 km/h 1105.68 km/h 1105.68 km/h

Speed over a straight 15/25 km course : 1333.90 km/h

On May 25th 2004 a B-1B dropped four Joint Direct Attack Munitions to help French and Afghan troops fighting against Taliban forces in Afghanistan. The 40th Air Expeditionary Group crew was patrolling south of Kabul when they received the call for assistance. After receiving coordinates from the French forward air controller, they made a low pass over the area and then released their weapons on a second pass. The French controller reported good hits from the bombs and said no further assistance was needed because the enemy was retreating. The B-1B and crew were from the 7th Bomb Wing, and were probably operating from Thumrait in Oman.

B-1B 85-0077 "Screamin' Eagle" from the 34th BS attended a Boeing/Long Beach Families Day on June 4th 2004.

B-1Bs 85-0083 from the 37th BS and 86-0108 from the 28th BS deployed to RAF Fairford on July 14th 2004 to participate in the Royal International Air Tattoo, and also to appear at the Farnborough Air Show the following week.

In July and August 2004 the EDO corporation successfully demonstrated new B-1B pneumatic ejection equipment during test flights at Edwards AFB. The Pneumatic Assisted Release (PAR) initiative is a proof-of-concept demonstration to asses the benefits of an improved weapons carriage and release rack. The PAR equipment uses compressed air as the energy source for ejecting munitions from the wespons rack, rather than the pyrotechnic cartridges used at present.

A B-1B which had been retired to AMARC in April 2003 has been regenerated and returned to the front line. Aircraft 86-0097 departed Davis-Monthan AFB on September 2nd 2004 after a 2-month rework program.

On November 23rd 2004 B-1B 85-0083 assigned to the 37th BS sustained nearly $1 million in damage after an aborted take-off at Ellsworth AFB. The investigation into the incident found that misaligned rollers on the crew entry ladder caused it to come loose during the aircraft's takeoff run. This caused the "entry ladder" warning light to come on in the cockpit, which in turn caused the crew to initiate a high-speed abort at a gross weight of 381000lb. This caused the brakes to overheat (to over 1000°F) which led to an explosion and fire in the number eight landing gear. None of the crew was injured (see AIB report).

On December 31st 2004 the USAF grounded the entire B-1B fleet had been grounded after 85-0081ís nose landing gear collapsed on December 13th. After landing at Thumrait, the pilot taxied the aircraft to its parking spot. When the engines were shut down, the nose gear collapsed. No one was injured in the incident.

The aircraft and crew were deployed from the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base to the 40th Air Expeditionary Group.

The grounding was lifted on January 5th 2005, after all the aircraft had been inspected.

A commercial imaging satellite photograph of Diego Garcia taken on January 1st 2005 showed eight B-1Bs on the ramp.

B-1B 84-0049 arrived at Long Beach airport from Edwards AFB on January 14th 2005. It was scheduled to stay at Boeing's Repair and Modification Services (RAMS) facility for six months as a Boeing team developed procedures and tools for inspecting the aircraft's wing pivot pin and bearings.

The wing pivots and bearings are integral to the wing sweep system, and carry all the wing loads into the fuselage. Although there is no indication of any wear in the bearings, development of a procedure will allow the Air Force to inspect the bearings of a few aircraft in the coming years. The procedure requires the physical removal, and subsequent re-installing, of the wing pivot pins and bearings from the aircraft. Neither operation has ever been done before.

On February 4th 2005 B-1B 83-0067 was placed on exhibit at the South Dakota Air and Space Museum at Rapid City, SD. Although the aircraft had previously been assigned to the 7th BW at Dyess AFB, 83-0067 carries the 77th BS "War Eagles" tail flash and "EL" tail markings. This squadron was deactivated at Ellsworth in September 2001. The nose art "Lets Roll" is painted on the aircraft; at Dyess it had been called "Texas Ranger".

A B-1B test program that combined testing of the Software Sustainment Block (SB10) upgrade along with integrating the 500lb GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition was completed at Edwards AFB on February 24th 2005.

The last SB10 sortie was flown to the Utah Test and Training Range by the 419th FLTS on February 22nd This flight accomplished test points ranging from radar targeting to weapons employment,

In the final munitions test on February 24th, testers released six inert GBU-38 JDAMs in four passes over the Naval Air Warfare Centre at China Lake. The upgrades will be turned over to operational testers for force deployment evaluation.

In early May 2005 7th Bomb Wing B-1Bs demonstrated their superior flexibility and air power capability by simulating 72 launches of the bomberís newest weapon, the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM), during exercise "JASSM Thunder 05-01". This is the first operational-level planning-to-execution exercise for the B-1B bomber featuring its new JASSM capability.

The Base Realignment and Closure 2005 report, released on May 13th 2005, recommended the closure of Ellsworth AFB and the redeployment of the 28th Bomb Wing to Dyess AFB.

The 13th Bomb Squadron, part of the 7th Bomb Wing based at Dyess AFB, was de-activated on June 3rd 2005.

On June 21st 2005 the 337th TES based at Dyess AFB accomplished a "first" when a Lancer over the Gulf of Mexico dropped guided cluster weapons on a moving maritime target in support of "Sinking Exercise East".

This flight was the culmination of a six-month test to evaluate the maritime role of an anti-tank weapon, the CBU-105 wind corrected munitions dispenser. The test also evaluated the B-1's use of its moving target radar mode to find, track and successfully target three remotely controlled motor boats on three separate runs prior to releasing two weapons in a single pass.

June 29th 2005 marked the 20th anniversary of the arrival of the first B-1B, 83-0065 "Star of Abilene", at Dyess AFB. The aircraft was retired in 2003 and is now on display at the Linear Air Park, Abilene, Texas.

From July 8th to July 21st 2005 the 28th Bomb Wing conducted an Operational Readiness Exercise, named Badlands Express 05-05. This exercise marked an important milestone in the wing's preparation for next year's Air Combat Command Inspector General inspection. For the first time, both bomb squadrons and aircraft maintenance units worked together in a maximum effort scenario. Nearly 700 Airmen and 16 B-1s practiced mobilizing, deploying, and operating out of a simulated forward operating location in the Southeast Asia theater.

Lancer participants in the 2005 Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in July 2005 were 85-0089 from the 9th BS at Dyess, and 86-0099 from the 37th BS at Ellsworth. The Dyess aircraft had some serviceability problems and only left the base a week after the show.

On July 25th 2005 two Lancers from Dyess each auto-released a Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile as well as three dissimilar weapons from the same launcher over the White Sands Missile Range. The JASSMs struck their targets after travelling more than 170 nm.

The mission's success was made possible by the final testing of new offensive avionics software designated as Sustainment Block 10. An enhanced version of the Lancerís flight software, SB-10 provides advanced weapons patterning capability and the ability to load more than one type of weapon in each of the B-1ís three weapons bays. In the past, a set of target coordinates had to be entered for every guided weapon prior to release. SB10 allows a number of weapons to be targetted in a linear or circular spacing around a single set of coordinates, greatly improving the ability to strike a maneuvering target.

In addition to carrying one JASSM each, both B-1Bs used in the White Sands demonstration carried 28 MK-82 500-pound free-fall, general purpose bombs, one GBU-38 500-pound Global Positioning System-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions, one GBU-31 2,000-pound GPS-guided JDAM, and an MK-84 2,000-pound general purpose bomb.

After months of work, the restoration of B-1B 83-0071 was completed in June 2005, and was officially dedicated at the Maj. Charles B. Hall Memorial Airpark at Tinker AFB on July 27th 2005.

On August 18th 2005 the 7th Bomb Wing became the first unit to achieve initial operational capability of the AGM-158 JASSM cruise missile, which meant that the missile could now be used in combat operations.

Two B-1B Lancers from the 34th BS at Ellsworth AFB became the first of the type to visit Russia, when they participated in the Moscow International Aviation and Space Salon held from August 16th to 21st at Ramenskoye Airfield. Aircraft 86-0129 'Black Widow' was in the static display and 85-0060 gave daily flying demonstrations.

On August 26th 2005 the Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission voted to keep open Ellsworth Air Force Base, rejecting a Pentagon proposal to close the base and consolidate the Air Force's B-1B Lancer fleet at Dyess Air Force Base.

On August 29th 2005 the first two of six B-1Bs from the 28th BW arrived at Andersen AFB on Guam for a 4-month deployment as the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, replacing B-2 Spirits. The deployment will be supported by 250 personnel from Ellsworth.

On September 15th 2005 B-1B 85-0066, which was deployed to Guam, was badly damaged by fire as it was landing at Andersen AFB. The fire apparently started in the aircraft's landing gear. Emergency crews quickly put out the flames and there were no injuries. Hoever, damage to the B-1's right wing, nacelle, airframe and landing gear led to an estimated repair cost of more than $32 million.

On November 30th 2005 B-1B 86-0136, on a training mission from Dyess AFB, released a BDU-33 training munition on the impact area of the Melrose Bombing Range, located 24 miles west of Cannon AFB. The munition landed in the intended area, but the munition's spotting charge started a fire which became uncontrollable and consumed about 26000 acres of grazing and farm land before being extinguished. (see AIB report).

Personnel from the 34th BS started arriving on Guam in late December 2005, as part of the AEF 120-day rotation. They replaced the 37th BS who have been on the island since August.

The investigation into the incident involving 85-0066 on September 15th concluded that leaking hydraulic fluid and sparks from a wheel being gouged caused a fire to start in the aircraft's right main landing gear as it touched down. The incident was set in motion by the migration of the axle beam bushing and failure of the torque tube bushing, which over time allowed the brake to press into the wheel and gouge the rim. The movement of the brake also caused the pin connecting the brake to the brake swivel to break, resulting in a leak in the primary brake hydraulic system. The resulting fire damaged the B-1's right wing, nacelle, structure and landing gear at an estimated repair cost of more than $32 million. The taxiway was also damaged; cost for repairs was estimated at nearly $184,000 (see AIB report).

Two 7th BW B-1Bs arrived at RAF Fairford on March 20th 2006: 86-0140 'The Last Lancer' as "VAMPIRE 01" and 85-0073 'Dark Knight' as "VAMPIRE 02". They flew several missions over various UK ranges. They departed on March 24th.

The deployment of the 34th BS' B-1Bs to Guam ended at the end of April 2006, whith B-2s arriving to replace them.

On May 8th 2006 B-1B 86-0132, assigned to the 7th BW, was heavily damaged in a wheels-up landing at Diego Garcia after a ferry flight from Guam. The aircraft slid along the runway for 7500 feet and caught fire; this was extinguished by emergency crews and the four crew on the B-1B escaped without injury. Damage to the aircraft was estimated to be $7.9 million (see AIB report).

In order to move the aircraft, a heavy-lift crane had to be brought in from the port area. The runway was out of action for nearly three weeks. See here for pictures.

On May 17th 2006 a B-1B carried out the first combat drop of a GBU-38 JDAM in Afghanistan, destroying a Taliban compound near Khandahar and killing 15-20 insurgents.

On May 18th 2006 a B-1B released a Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile/Extended Range over the White Sands Missile Range in the New Mexico desert. The missile successfully cruised for more than 400 nautical miles to its target of cargo containers. The maximum range of the JASSM/ER is 500 nm.

Two B-1Bs, 85-0061 and 86-0103 from the 28th BS, arrived at RAF Fairford on July 13th 2006 to participate in the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford, as well as the Farnborough Air Show.

On August 16th 2006 the B-1B-equipped 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron deployed to Al Udeid, Qatar, where it came under the control of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing. This location reduces the flying time required to reach Iraq and Afghanistan by about a quarter, and also reduces the number of aerial refuellings required from three to one. This may mean that the B-1B detachment at Thumrait in Oman is no longer operational.

The 379th AEW had begun to support B-1B operations in June 2006, since when the aircraft has flown over 120 sorties and dropped over 225 bombs.

On August 29th 2006 B-1Bs provided close air support for coalition troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Qalat, and also near Tarin Kowt in Afghanistan. The aircraft expended GBU-31s and GBU-38s on the enemy positions, ending both engagements.

On August 30th 2006 a B-1B provided close air support for coalition troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Musah Qal'eh, releasing GBU-31s and -38s against enemy positions. A B-1 also provided close air support to coalition troops in contact with enemy forces near Kandahar.

On September 1st 2006 B-1Bs provided close air support for coalition troops in contact with Taliban extremists in the vicinity of Musah Qal'eh, near Kandahar and near Gereshk.

On September 2nd 2006 a B-1B provided close air support for coalition troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Kandahar. The B-1 launched GBU-31s against extremist positions, ending the engagement.

On September 3rd 2006 a B-1B provided close air support for coalition troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Kandahar. The B-1 expended GBU-31s and -38s. In a separate engagement near Kandahar a B-1B provided close air support for coalition troops, expending a GBU-31 and GBU-38s on extremist positions.

In early September 2006 airmen from the 28th Bomb Wing began deploying to Southwest Asia to support ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The majority of the airmen went to the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing at Al Udeid to serve alongside other U.S. and coalition forces. 28th BW B-1Bs also deployed to take over from the 7th BW.

On September 4th 2006 a B-1B provided close air support for coalition troops in contact with extremist forces near Tarin Kowt.

On September 5th 2006 in Afghanistan a B-1B provided close air support for coalition troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Orgun-E. The B-1B expended GBU-31s on enemy rocket positions, ending the engagement. A B-1B provided close air support to NATO forces near Musah Qal'eh, and to ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Tarin Kowt.

On September 6th 2006 a B-1B provided close air support for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists in the vicinity of Musah Qal'eh. The B-1B expended a GBU-38 on an enemy mortar position, ending the engagement.

In Afghanistan on September 9th 2006 a B-1B provided close air support for coalition troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Kandahar, expending GBU-31s and -38s. A B-1B also provided close air support for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Oruzgan.

On September 10th 2006 a B-1B provided close air support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Gereshk. The B-1B expended GBU-31s and -38s on an enemy mortar position, ending the engagement.

In Afghanistan on September 11th 2006 a B-1B conducted a precision strike against Taliban positions and a mortar position in the vicinity of Asadabad. The B-1B expended GBU-38s on the positions, destroying the targets. A B-1B also provided close air support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Lashkar Gah.

A B-1B also provided close air support to coalition troops in contact with enemy forces in the vicinity of Kandahar.

On September 14th 2006 a B-1B provided close air support for coalition troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Asabad.

On September 15th 2006 B-1B provided close air support for coalition troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Khowst.

On September 16th 2006 a B-1B conducted a precision strike against a Taliban extremist target near Gereshk. The B-1 expended GBU-38s, destroying the target.

A B-1B also provided close air support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Lashkar Gah. The B-1 expended GBU-38s and a GBU-31 on enemy locations.

Pilot error caused B-1B 86-0132 to land at Diego Garcia with its wheels up on May 8th 2006, according to an aircraft accident investigation report released on September 18th 2006.

Investigators concluded the cause of the mishap was both pilots' failure to lower the landing gear during the aircraft's approach and landing. Contributing factors were the co-pilot's task oversaturation; the co-pilot's urgency to complete a long mission; both pilots' inattention to instrument readings and the landing checklist, and the co-pilot's false belief the pilot had lowered the landing gear.

According to the report, the pilot unexpectedly turned over aircraft control to the co-pilot on the final approach. The pilot reported to the air traffic control tower that the landing gear was down despite the fact that the landing checklist was never completed and the landing gear was never lowered. The red warning light in the gear handle, indicating all landing gear was not down and locked, was illuminated for more than four minutes during the approach. Additionally, at the time the aircraft landed, the three green position lights, which illuminate after the landing gear has locked in the down position, were not illuminated.

The co-pilot suffered a minor back injury; the other three crew members were not injured.

Damage totaled approximately $7.9 million for the aircraft and the damage to the runway totaled approximately $14,025. The aircraft was assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron of the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess AFB, Texas.

On September 18th 2006 a B-1B provided close air support for coalition troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Oruzgan. The B-1 expended Guided Bomb Unit-31s and GBU-38s on enemy positions. A B-1B also provided close air support for coalition troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Khowst.

On September 19th a B-1B provided close air support for coalition troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Tarin Kowt, expending GBU-38s on enemy positions.

On September 20th a B-1B provided close air support for coalition troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Asmar. The B-1 expended a Guided Bomb Unit-31 on enemy positions.

On September 21st B-1B Lancers provided close air support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Kajaki and Now Zad.

On September 22nd a B-1B provided close air support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Garmsir. The B-1 expended GBU-31s and a GBU-38 on enemy locations.

On September 23rd a B-1B provided close air support for coalition troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Disi Ghar, expending GBU-31s and GBU-38s on enemy positions. A B-1B also provided close air support to coalition troops in contact with enemy forces near Bez Bel.

On September 24th and 25th B-1Bs provided close air support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Garmsir.

On September 29th a B-1B provided close air support for coalition troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Sangin.

On October 2nd a B-1B provided close air support for coalition troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Gilan.

On October 3rd a B-1B conducted strikes on enemy targets near Kohe Regak. The B-1 expended GBU-31s on enemy positions. A B-1B also provided close air support for coalition troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Shinkay Ghar.

On October 4th a B-1B provided close air support for coalition troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Oruzgan. The B-1 expended GBU-38s on enemy positions.

On October 5th a B-1B provided close air support for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Qaryeh-ye Barang. A B-1B provided close air support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near De Cagay Ghar. B-1Bs provided close air support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Khayl-e Sufla and Armah.

On October 9th a B-1B provided close air support for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Garmsir. The B-1B expended GBU-31s on enemy positions. A B-1B also provided close air support for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Now Zad.

On October 10th a B-1B provided close air support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Babajhey, and expended GBU-31s on enemy positions. A B-1B also provided close air support for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Alqehdari Nekan.

On October 12th a B-1B provided close air support for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Salamkhan, expending a GBU-38 on enemy positions. A B-1B also provided close air support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Lwara Dasta, expending GBU-38s on enemy positions, and also neat Tirgaran.

On October 14th a B-1B provided close air support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Shenadah. The B-1B dropped GBU-31s on enemy positions.

On October 15th a B-1B provided close air support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Gangikhel. The B-1B GBU-38s and GBU-31s on enemy positions.

On October 17th B-1Bs close air support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Bez Bel (expending GBU-31s and GBU-38s on enemy positions), and also at Gol Kowt.

On October 18th a B-1B provided close air support for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Worzhanah Kalay.

On October 19th a B-1B provided close air support for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Sangay Ghar. The B-1 expended GBU-31s on enemy positions.

Lancers were busy in Afghanistan on October 22nd. Aircraft provided close air support for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Garmsir (expending a GBU-38), again for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Mangratay (expending GBU-31s), again for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Gereshk (expending a GBU-38), and finally for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Lwara Dasta (expending GBU-31s on enemy positions).

On October 23rd a B-1B provided close air support for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Bermel Rod. The B-1 expended GBU-31s and GBU-38s on enemy positions. A B-1B also provided close air support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Kandahar, expending GBU-38s and one GBU-31 on enemy positions.

On October 24th a B-1B provided close air support for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Sardaran and Garmsir.

On October 26th a B-1B provided close air support for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Band-Kajaki. A B-1B also provided close air support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Gangikhel. The B-1B expended GBU-31s on enemy positions.

On October 27th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Gangikhel, expending GBU-31s on enemy positions.

On October 29th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Shami Kabol.

On November 30th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Nazargol Kala.

On November 2nd a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Sangay Ghar.

On November 3rd B-1B Lancers provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Gangikhel. The B-1Bs expended GBU-31s and GBU-38s on enemy positions.

On November 5th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Gereshk. The B-1 expended GBU-38s on enemy positions.

On November 6th a B-1B provided CAS to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Bermel Rod.

On November 8th a B-1B provided CAS to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near De Michene Ghar, expending GBU-31s on enemy positions.

On November 9th a B-1B conducted a strike against Taliban extremists near Khvajeh Khezar. The B-1B expended GBU-31s on enemy targets.

On November 10th a B-1B provided CAS to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Kundi Ghar, expending GBU-31s and GBU-38s on enemy positions. A B-1B also provided CAS to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Shemika, again expending GBU-31s and GBU-38s on enemy positions.

On November 12th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Kandahar. The B-1B expended a GBU-31 on enemy positions.

On November 15th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Ghazni.

On November 17th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Asadabad.

On November 19th, 20th and 21st B-1Bs provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Asadabad, expending GBU-12s on enemy positions.

On November 24th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Forward Operating Base Carlson.

On November 26th and 27th B-1Bs provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Asadabad.

On November 29th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Orgun-e and Khowst. The B-1B expended GBU-31s on enemy positions near Orgun-e. A B-1B also provided support for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Moqor.

On November 30th a B-1B Lancer provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Asadabad. The B-1B expended GBU-38s on enemy positions.

On December 2nd B-1Bs provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Now Zad. The B-1Bs expended GBU-38s and GBU-31s on enemy positions.

On December 4th a B-1B provided support for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Lashkar Gah.

On December 5th a B-1B Lancer provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Lashkar Gah. The B-1B expended GBU-38s on enemy positions. A B-1B also supported ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Kajaki Dam.

On December 7th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Musah Qal'eh.

On December 8th, a B-1B Lancer conducted a strike against Taliban extremists near Asadabad, expending GBU-31s on enemy targets. B-1Bs also provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Asadabad. The B-1Bs expended GBU-12s and GBU-38s on enemy positions.

On December 9th a B-1B provided close air support for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Kabul. The B-1B expended GBU-38s on enemy positions.

Ob December 10th, a B-1B Lancer provided close air support for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Orgun-E. A B-1B also provided CAS to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Qalat.

On December 11th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Now Zad.

On December 13th a B-1B conducted a strike against Taliban extremists near Kandahar. The B-1B expended GBU-38s on enemy targets. A B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Now Zad, expending GBU-31s and GBU-38s on enemy positions.

On December 15th a B-1B expended GBU-31s and GBU-38s on Taliban positions near Now Zad.

On December 16th a B-1B expended GBU-31s on enemy positions near Asadabad.

On December 18th a B-1B Lancer conducted strikes against Taliban extremists near Kandahar, expending GBU-31s and GBU-38s on enemy targets.

On December 20th B-1Bs provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Orgun-e and near Now Zad. The B-1B expended GBU-38s and a GBU-31 on enemy positions.

On December 21st B-1Bs provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Now Zad, and near Kandahar.

On December 22nd a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Musah Qal'eh.

On December 23rd B-1Bs provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Now Zad and Qalat.

On December 24th B-1Bs provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Now Zad and near Asadabad.

On December 26th a B-1B conducted a strike against Taliban extremists near Now Zad. The B-1B expended GBU-31s on enemy targets. A B-1B also provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Sangin.

On December 27th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Musah Qal'eh. The B-1s expended GBU-38s and a GBU-31 on enemy positions. B-1Bs also provided CAS for ISAF troops near Now Zad and Lashkar Gah.

On December 29th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Kandahar. The B-1B expended a GBU-38 on an enemy position.

On December 30th, B-1Bs provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Lashkar Gah. The B-1Bs expended GBU-31s on enemy positions.

On January 1st 2007 a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Now Zad.

On January 3rd a B-1B provideded CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Khowst. The B-1 expended GBU-31s on enemy positions. A B-1B also supported ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Musah Qal'eh.

On January 4th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Orgun-E.

On January 5th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Musa Qal'eh.

On January 6th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Orgun-e.

On January 7th B-1Bs provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Now Zad and Sangin. The B-1s expended GBU-38s on enemy positions. Also, a B-1B provided close-air support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Ghanzi.

On January 8th a B-1B provided close-air support for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Asadabad, expending GBU-38s on enemy positions.

In Iraq on January 8th B-1Bs conducted strikes against anti-Iraqi forces south of Balad Ruz. The B-1Bs expended GBU-31s on enemy targets.

In Afghanistan on January 9th 2007 a B-1B conducted a strike on Taliban extremists near Garmsir, expending GBU-38s on enemy targets. B-1Bs also provided CAS to ISAF forces near Now Zad and near Gereshk, expending GBU-38s on enemy positions.

oN January 10th B-1Bs provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Gereshk. The B1-Bs GBU-38s and GBU-31s on enemy positions. B-1Bs also provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Musah Qal'eh, Orgun-E, and Lashkar Gah.

On January 11th B-1Bs provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Gereshk, Asadabad and Musah Qal'eh.

On January 12th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Orgun-e, expending GBU-31s on enemy positions.

On January 13th B-1Bs provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near forward operating base Carlson, and near Sangin. The B-1Bs expended GBU-31s and GBU-38s on enemy positions.

On January 14th, a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Qurya. The B-1B expended GBU-31s and GBU-38s on enemy positions.

On January 15th a B-1B provided CAS to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Qurya. The B-1B dropped GBU-31s and GBU-38s on enemy positions. A B-1B also provided close-air support for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Nurestan.

On January 17th B-1Bs provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces in Carlson, Wama, Sangin and Geresh.

On January 18th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Wama, expending GBU-38 bombs on enemy positions.

On January 19th 2007 Boeing successfully demonstrated the use of a Sniper XR electro-optical/infrared targeting pod on a B-1 bomber. The bomber's crew completed more than 40 test conditions in approximately eight hours over the Mojave Desert in California. The demonstration validated the crew's ability to positively identify moving and stationary targets in a variety of conditions.

Mounted on an external pylon below the cockpit, the targeting pod allowed the flight crews to track moving vehicles day and night, in both crowded and clear conditions. The sensor detected large and small vehicles at different ranges and angles and maintained its track even when the target vehicle passed other vehicles.

Images and data from the sensor were displayed in the weapons systems operator stations in the back seat of the aircraft and at the pilot/co-pilot station.

On January 20th B-1Bs provided CAS for ISAF troops in enemy contact near Qurya. The B-1Bs expended GBU-31s and GBU-38s on enemy positions.

January 21st 2007 marked the 20th anniversary of the delivery of the first B-1B, 85-0073 "The Wings of Freedom", to the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth AFB.

On January 22nd a B-1B Lancer provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Carlson. The B-1B expended GBU-38s and GBU-31s on enemy positions.

On January 23rd B-1Bs provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Oruzgan. The B-1B expended GBU-31s on enemy positions. A B-1B also provided support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Qalat.

On January 24th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Musa Qal'eh. The B-1B expended GBU-38s and a GBU-31 on enemy positions. A B-1B also supported ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Qurya, expending GBU-38s on enemy positions.

On January 25th a B-1B conducted a strike on Taliban extremists near Musa Qal'eh. The bomber expended GBU-38s on enemy targets.

On January 26th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Sangin.

On January 27th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Jalalabad. The B-1B expended GBU-38s on enemy positions. A B-1B also supprted ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Carlson.

On January 28th B-1Bs provided close air support for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near forward operating bases Carlson and Tillman.

On January 29th a B-1B provided close air support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Qalat.

On January 30th B-1Bs provided close air support for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Musa Qal'eh. The B-1s expended GBU-38 bombs against three potential enemy buildings.

On January 31st a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Forward Operating Base Carlson. A B-1B also supported ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Musa Qal'eh. The B-1B successfully expended GBU-31s on an enemy cave complex, compounds and a bunker position.

On February 1st a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Forward Operating Base Rob. The B-1B successfully expended GBU-38s on enemy rocket positions and GBU-31s on an enemy compound.

On February 3rd a B-1B supported ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Forward Operating Base Carlson. The B-1B successfully expended a GBU-38 on enemy rocket positions.

A B-1B provided close air support for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Qurya, successfully expending GBU-31s on a building containing enemy forces reported to be firing rocket propelled grenades and small arms at a JTAC position.

On February 4th a B-1B Lancer provided close-air support for ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Pashsbad. The B-1B successfully expended GBU-38s and GBU-31s on enemy positions and bunkers.

On February 6th a B-1B supported ISAF troops receiving small arms fire from Taliban extremists in a building near Qurya. The B-1B successfully expended GBU-38s on the building, ending the engagement. A B-1B also provided support to ISAF troops by observing terrain surrounding a joint tactical air controller, or JTAC, after burning vehicles were found near Forward Operating Base Carlson.

On February 7th a B-1B conducted a strike on cave entrances suspected of containing anti-Iraqi forces and material near Pashsbad. The B-1B successfully expended GBU-31s on cave entrances according to a JTAC report.

On February 8th a B-1B Lancer, F/A-18 Hornets and Mirage 2000s provided close air support for ISAF troops receiving enemy small arms fire near Musa Qal'eh. The B-1B successfully expended GBU-38 and GBU-31 bombs on enemy positions, ending the engagement.

On February 9th a B-1B Lancer provided close-air support for ISAF troops taking small-arms fire from Taliban extremists near Pashsbad. The B-1 successfully expended a GBU-38 and GBU-31s on enemy positions, ending the engagement.

On February 12th B-1B Lancers, F/A-18 Hornets and Harrier GR.7s provided CAS for ISAF troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Musa Qal'eh.

On February 13th a B-1B conducted a strike against an enemy compound near Gereshk. After receiving coordinates from an MQ-1 Predator, the B-1 expended GBU-38s on the target.

In Iraq on February 15th a B-1B conducted shows of force, expending flares near Basrah. The B-1B also was tasked to support troops in contact in the area, but there was nothing significant to report.

In Afghanistan on February 19th a B-1B dropped a GBU-38 on an enemy firing position near Now Zad. The target was a direct hit with no collateral damage according to the JTAC on the ground. The B-1B also dropped a GBU-31 on a cave entrance in the same area. The JTAC confirmed the cave entrance was closed and additional air strikes were not required.

On February 20th a B-1B provided CAS for ISAF troops surrounded by enemy forces preparing for an ambush near Kajaki. The JTAC gave coordinates to the enemy locations and the B-1 dropped GBU-31s and GBU-38s on the enemy locations, successfully hitting all targets according to the JTAC report.

The aircraft was then assigned to drop GBU-38s and GBU-31s on an enemy communications compound near Kajaki. All weapons were successfully dropped within parameters according to the JTAC.

A B-1B was assigned to drop GBU-31s on a mortar position and an enemy compound near Nowzad. The JTAC called both weapons direct hits.

On February 21st a B-1B was assigned to locate and destroy an enemy firing position in a cave complex near Now Zad. The B-1B pilot recommended dropping a GBU-31, however, the ground commander relayed through the JTAC that the cave no longer was a valid target because enemy insurgents had moved on.

The B-1B was then assigned to provide a show of force for ISAF troops engaged in enemy contact near Deh Rawod.

In Afghanistan February 23rd, a B-1B was assigned to observe a compound for possible insurgent targets near Musa Qal'eh. Coalition forces were taking small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades from insurgents in the compound. The B-1B pilot surveyed the compound and reported intelligence to a joint terminal attack controller on the ground.

The B-1B was then assigned to observe three vehicles near Zarak. The B-1B pilot located the vehicles and reported their location to the JTAC to relay to the ground commander.

On February 25th a JTAC reported that coalition troops were receiving fire from insurgent ground forces near Qalat. The JTAC passed the coordinates of the enemy firing location to Air Force B1-B Lancers as well as the location of coalition forces. In a synchronized effort, the B-1Bs dropped GBU-38s on the enemy location.

On February 26th a B-1B dropped GBU-31s on enemy rocket positions near Musa Qal'eh. The B-1's crew observed 30 to 40 enemy insurgents firing rockets at coalition forces before successfully dropping munitions on target.

On February 27th a B-1B Lancer provided CAS to coalition forces receiving heavy machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire from enemy forces on a ridgeline near Energay. The B-1B dropped GBU-38s on the ridgeline with good effects as reported by the JTAC on scene.

On February 28th a B-1B provided a show of force and expended flares for coalition forces receiving mortar fire near Energay. Another B-1B provided a show of force with flares and chaff for coalition forces near Sangin.

On March 1st 2007 85-0081 "Aftershock" notched up the ½ millionth flight hour for the B-1B fleet. This was accomplished on its first mission after being deployed to Al Udeid. The original design life of the aircraft was specified to be at least 10,000 flight hours over 30 years. Today, the 67 aircraft in the active inventory average 5,800 hours, with an average age of 20 years. However, using information recorded on every aircraft flight, the Boeing B-1 Structural Analyst team predicts a useful structural life of more than 20,000 flight hours per aircraft and 30 to 60 years before major structural modifications would be required. At the current utilization rate of 250 flight hours per year per bomber, those modifications could be put off until 2064.

On March 1st a B-1B dropped GBU-38s on enemy mortar and firing positions near Forward Operating Base Robinson. The JTACs reported directs hits on both positions.

On March 3rd a B-1B dropped GBU-31s and GBU-38s on anti-coalition insurgents in an open area near Kajaki. A JTAC confirmed direct hits, removing the insurgent threat.

Another B-1B dropped GBU-31s and GBU-38s on enemy positions along a tree line, mortar positions and enemy compounds near Sangin. A JTAC reported direct hits for all targets.

Also near Sangin, a B-1B performed reconnaissance along a route used by coalition forces.

On March 5th a B-1B dropped GBU-31s on a building near Sangin containing insurgents. The B-1B also provided two shows of force, releasing multiple flares and bundles of chaff in the same area with successful results reported by the JTAC.

On March 6th a B-1B provided a show of force, releasing multiple flares, for coalition forces who sustained casualties from small-arms fire near Sangin.

On March 7th a B-1B dropped GBU-38s and GBU-31 JDAMs on enemy personnel and a building near Garmsir, in support of NATO Operation "Achilles". The on-scene JTAC, and ground forces, observed direct hits.

On March 9th in Iraq, a B-1B provided three shows of presence for coalition forces in contact with enemies near Miqdadiyah. A show of presence is a mission flown to reassure friendly forces and the civilian populace. The B-1B's crew then reported trench systems in the area.

On March 10 in Afghanistan, a B-1B released GBU-31s on an enemy bunker and a compound. The B-1B also released GBU-31s on a mortar position and insurgents in an open area near Kajaki Dam. All targets were reported as direct hits.

On March 11th a B-1B performed a show of force to protect four coalition vehicles near Worzhanah Kalay. A JTAC confirmed the show of force was successful and no enemy attacks were reported.

On March 12th a B-1B dropped GBU-38s on enemy buildings near Sangin. The B-1B strike came after coalition forces received mortar and machine gun fire. A JTAC on-scene confirmed direct hits for all weapons.

On March 13th a B-1B provided a show of force near Zarghun Shahr. The JTAC called the show of force successful.

On March 14th, a B-1B dropped GBU-38s and GBU-31s on enemy buildings and fire positions near Sangin. A JTAC on-scene confirmed direct hits for all weapons. Also near Sangin, the B-1B's crew observed the area where a coalition vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device.

On March 16th, a B-1B performed a show of force, expending flares over a coalition position near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The show of force was successful, according to the JTAC involved.

Near Shkin, another B-1B provided a show of support for the Afghan National Army.

On March 18th a B-1B dropped GBU-12s and GBU-38s on enemy-occupied buildings near Kajaki Dam. The strike came after coalition forces came under fire from the buildings. An on-scene joint terminal attack controller confirmed all the weapons hit the intended targets and enemy fire ceased after engagement.

Another B-1B dropped GBU-38s on enemy forces in an open area who were firing rockets at coalition forces near Sangin.

On March 19th a B-1B dropped a GBU-38 on a tree line near Sangin from which coalition forces were receiving fire. A JTAC confirmed the B-1B`s weapons were all direct hits.

On March 20th a B-1B provided a show of force over a police station that was surrounded and taking enemy fire near Jalalabad. A JTAC on-scene reported that the insurgents broke contact after the show of force.

Another B-1B released multiple flares to provide a show of force for a coalition convoy traveling through a known ambush point near Worzhanah Kalay. No attacks were reported after the show of force.

On March 21st a B-1B dropped GBU-31s and GBU-38s on enemy forces in a treeline, an enemy compound, four separate buildings and a cave entrance near Sangin. A JTAC on-scene confirmed successful hits for all targets.

Another B-1B provided a show of force, releasing multiple flares, for a coalition convoy stuck in the mud near Farah. No attacks were reported after the show of force.

On March 22nd a B-1B dropped GBU-31s and GBU-38s on several enemy buildings near Sangin. Coalition forces were taking fire from insurgents in the buildings. One of the buildings was a suspected Taliban commander's house. A JTAC on-scene observed successful impacts on all targets.

Another B-1B provided a show of force, releasing multiple flares, for coalition forces in contact with insurgents near Gardez.

In Iraq on March 23rd a joint B-1B and F-16 strike was carried out against insurgent fighting positions near Ba'Qubah.

In Afghanistan on March 26th a B-1B dropped GBU-38s on insurgents in an open area and others hiding behind a wall near Tarin Kowt.

On March 27th a B-1B dropped GBU-31s on four insurgent buildings near Sangin. A JTAC confirmed the targets were directly hit.

On March 28th a B-1B dropped GBU-31s and GBU-38s on insurgent buildings, a tunnel and wall near Sangin. The attack came after coalition forces received small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire from those locations.

In Iraq, a B-1B provided a show of force for coalition forces traveling from Forward Operating Base Sykes. Multiple shows of force were needed for coalition forces receiving small-arms fire and to disperse a crowd.

In Afghanistan on March 29th a B-1B provided a show of force for a coalition convoy with vehicle problems near Kabul. The B-1B also provided a show of force for another convoy that received small arms fire in the same area.

In Nuresanr, a B-1B observed insurgents moving away from coalition forces and reported the coordinates to a JTAC. The B-1B also provided aerial reconnaissance for an ambushed convoy and possible ambush sites in the same area.

On March 30th a B-1B dropped GBU-31s on an insurgent compound and a GBU-38 on an enemy firing position near Garmsir. Another B-1B provided a show of support for coalition forces in contact with insurgents near Asmar and Orgun.

On April 2nd a B-1B responded to a coalition convoy stuck in the river that was taking small-arms fire near Qalet. An on-scene JTAC passed coordinates for targets described as personnel in vehicles who were firing on the coalition convoy. The B-1B released GBU-38s on the targets.

The B-1B also performed a show of presence in the area, followed by a show of force and released flares to bring insurgents out of hiding. Both the show of presence and the show of force were reported as successful.

On April 3rd a B-1B provided a show of force for a coalition convoy stuck in the mud near Sangin. The B-1B also provided shows of force for coalition forces in contact with insurgents in the same area. The shows of force were reported as successful.

In early April 2007 the following B-1Bs from the 28th BW were deployed to Eielson AFB to participate in Red Flag-Alaska 07-01: 85-0060, 85-0077, 85-0083, 86-0111, 86-0113 and 86-0127.

On April 4th a B-1B dropped GBU-38s on insurgents firing mortars at coalition forces from a compound near Sangin. The mortar fire stopped after the bombs hit their target.

Another B-1B provided a show of force for coalition troops receiving small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire near Ghazni. A JTAC confirmed the show of force was successful and no additional attacks were reported.

A B-1B also provided a show of force over a group of moving vehicles traveling close to coalition forces near Ghazni.

On April 5th a B-1B provided two shows of force, releasing multiple flares, for coalition ground forces receiving small-arms fire near Oruzgan. A on-scene JTAC reported that the insurgents, firing from a compound, ceased fire after the shows of force.

On April 8th a B-1B dropped GBU-38s on insurgents firing upon a coalition forces observation post near Shkin. The weapons directly hit their target and ended the engagement.

Another B-1B dropped GBU-31s on insurgent mortar launch positions near Kajaki Dam. A JTAC confirmed the weapons scored direct hits. The pilots also performed shows of presence and reconnaissance in support of coalition ground forces in the area.

Near Trigari, at the request of a coalition ground commander, a B-1B provided shows of force, expending multiple flares, in support of Afghan police.

On April 9th a B-1B dropped GBU-38s on an insurgent position in an open area near Asadabad. The weapons directly hit the target.

Another B-1B provided shows of force, releasing multiple flares, in support of a coalition forces convoy receiving enemy fire after it struck an improvised explosive device near Qalat.

On April 12th a B-1B dropped GBU-31s on insurgents in an open area near Sangin. The B-1B also dropped a GBU-31 on an insurgent-occupied building. A joint terminal attack controller observed a direct hit on the building and successful impacts on the other targets.

Another B-1B dropped a GBU-31 on anti-coalition militia near a downed civilian helicopter close to Ghazni. The B-1B was initially assigned to provide a show of force; however, upon the coalition ground commander's request, a JTAC provided the aircrew specific coordinates for the airstrike. The JTAC reported the weapon hit the desired target.

Near Faizabad, a B-1B provided a show of force and was tasked to look for insurgent movement in a certain area.

On April 15th a B-1B dropped a GBU-31 and GBU-38s on an enemy firing position near Kajaki.

On April 16th a B-1B provided a show of force, releasing multiple flares, for a coalition convoy receiving insurgent fire near Oruzgan. Another B-1B provided aerial reconnaissance for suspicious activity near Asmar. The pilot also conducted a show of presence over a nearby coalition ground operation.

In Iraq on April 17th B-1B Lancers provided shows of force for coalition forces near Ad Diwaniyah.

In Afghanistan on April 18th a B-1B provided a show of force near Tirgari. The mission was reported as successful.

In Iraq on April 20th a B-1B provided a show of force for Coalition forces conducting patrols near Diwaniyah. The B-1B then provided a show of force for a Coalition patrol convoy that struck an improvised explosive device and was under attack in the same area.

In Afghanistan on April 21st a B-1B dropped GBU-31s on a building where insurgents were firing at Coalition forces near Garmsir. A JTAC observed good hits and the enemy small arms fire stopped after the air strike.

On April 22nd a B-1B dropped GBU-38s on four cave entrances used by insurgents near Asadabad. Hits on all of the caves entrances were observed.

On April 23rd a B-1B provided a show of force, releasing multiple flares, for coalition forces receiving small-arms fire near Asmar. Another B-1B conducted a show of force for an Afghan National Army unit near Asadabad.

On April 24th a B-1B provided overwatch for a coalition convoy near Qarah Bagh. No attacks were reported after the B-1B's arrival.

On April 25th near Kajaki Dam in Afghanistan, a B-1B dropped GBU-31s on enemy positions where insurgents were firing on coalition forces. The bombs impacted the desired targets and were direct hits with good effects according to a JTAC. Coalition ground forces began leaving the area after the strike and were fired upon by insurgents along a ridgeline. The ground commander requested his JTAC call in the B-1B to drop GBU-31s along the ridge. The bombs impacted the desired targets and were called direct hits by the JTAC. The B-1Bs also provided a show of presence for coalition forces headed to a forward operating base near the same area.

On April 26th a B-1B dropped a GBU-31 on a mortar position that fired on coalition forces near Asadabad.

On April 28th a B-1B dropped GBU-31s and GBU-38s on an insurgent mortar position and bunkers near Khowst. Every weapon hit the desired target according to an on-scene joint terminal attack controller. Another B-1B provided a show of force for a coalition convoy near Orgun-E Kalan. The B-1B continued overwatch for the convoy and no attacks were reported.

On April 29th a B-1B dropped guided bomb unit-31s on a building used by insurgents near Shindand.

On April 30th a B-1B dropped a GBU-31 and GBU-38 bombs on an enemy firing position near Shindand. The weapons hit the desired target, according to a JTAC. The B-1B also performed a show of force, releasing multiple flares over a compound. The show of force was successful and personnel were observed running from the compound.

Another B-1B received coordinates from a JTAC for an enemy firing position near Shindand. The B-1B dropped a GBU-38 on insurgents in the area. The weapon impacted the target, according to reports. The pilot also performed a show of force, releasing multiple flares over an enemy position. After the show of force, the enemy took cover and was temporarily suppressed.

On May 1st a B-1B dropped a GBU-31 on insurgents in a cave near Asadabad. A JTAC confirmed the cave was destroyed and reported secondary explosions.

On May 2nd a B-1B dropped a GBU-31 bomb on insurgents in an open area near Asmar. A JTAC confirmed that the weapon hit the desired target.

On May 3rd 2007 B-1B 85-0091 landed at Long Beach Airport for prototype repair of the dorsal longeron.

Also on May 3rd a B-1B dropped a GBU-31 on an anti-coalition militia in an open area near Kajaki Dam. The B-1B also dropped GBU-38s on anti-coalition militiamen in a compound. A JTAC confirmed all of the weapons directly impacted the targets.

On May 4th a B-1B provided a show of force, releasing multiple flares, for coalition forces receiving small arms fire while pursuing insurgents near Shkin.

In Iraq on May 6th a B-1B dropped GBU-38s on a known terrorist facility and weapons cache near Mosul. The bomber also performed a show of force to keep insurgents at bay during a coalition medical evacuation near Tall Afar.

In Afghanistan on May 7th a B-1B provided overwatch for a coalition convoy that received enemy small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire near Kandahar. No further attacks were reported after arrival of the B-1B. In Iraq a B-1B performed a show of force, expending multiple flares, in support of coalition forces leaving an area near Basra.

On May 8th in Afghanistan a B-1B dropped GBU-38s on anti-coalition militia in a tree line near Garmser.

On May 9th a B-1B conducted a show of force, firing multiple flares, to deter Taliban movement around a forward operating base near Gereshk. The aircrew also identified the location of enemy fighters preparing for a possible convoy ambush.

On May 11th a B-1B executed shows of force, releasing multiple flares, in support of coaltion forces near Gardez.

On May 12th a B-1B provided a show of force for a coalition convoy who took fire near Kajaki Dam. After the show of force, there were no more reports of small arms fire.

On May 13th a B-1B dropped multiple GBU-31s on insurgent compounds near Kajaki Sofia. The aircrew dropped GBU-38s on other enemy targets as well. The B-1 also performed a show of presence on a coalition route in the area.

On May 15th a B-1B dropped GBU-31s on a building occupied by insurgents in Gereshk. The B-1 also conducted a show of presence over a coalition route in the area.

On May 16th a B-1B dropped a GBU-38 on anti-coalition militia in Garsmir. The B-1 also conducted a show of force, launching multiple flares to discourage insurgents in a compound in Gereshk. Later, the B-1 successfully showed presence over coalition routes throughout the area.

In Iraq, a B-1B provided multiple high-speed shows of force over Mosul after three vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices detonated simultaneously.

On May 17th a B-1B watched over a suspicious compound in Gereshk and a convoy that had been ambushed in Sangin.

In Iraq on May 18th a B-1B dropped GBU-31s on a weapons cache near Baghdad to prevent anti-Iraqi personnel from using them. The resulting explosion was observed by Army AH-64 Apache helicopters, which confirmed a direct hit.

In Iraq on May 19th a B-1B dropped GBU-38s on a building used to manufacture IEDs in Baghdad. After the strike, the bomber continued to show force over the area for coalition forces hit by an IED.

In Afghanistan on May 22nd a B-1B dropped GBU-38s on a tree line containing a suspected high value target near Garmsir. The bomber also released a GBU-31 on a trench in the same area.

Over Oruzgan, an RAF Harrier GR.9 launched an enhanced Paveway II munition on an enemy position after a B-1B aircrew spotted anti-coalition members in a revetment on the side of a mountain. The ground forces commander considered them an imminent threat. Another Lancer released a GBU-38 to aide a JTAC in pinpointing an enemy firing position. Once the site was determined, the jet dropped another GBU-31on the location. The strikes were reported by the JTAC to be extremely successful.

Near Kajaki Sofla, a B-1B released GBU-31s on several compounds while providing close-air support for coalition ground forces.

On May 23rd a B-1B dropped guided bomb unit-38s on an insurgent building near Sangin. Another B-1B provided shows of force for coalition troops during a medical evacuation in Maimana.

On May 24th a B-1B Lancer dropped GBU-38s on an insurgent building in Sangin. The ground commander ordered the strike after taking fire from enemies in the building. The weapons struck the desired target and the attack was reported successful. The B-1 also conducted shows of presence in the surrounding area.

Another B-1 provided a show of force, launching flares for coalition personnel moving in Kandahar. The f orces were conducting a sweep for enemy insurgents when they were attacked by small-arms fire. The attack stopped when the B-1 came on the scene.

A B-1B provided a show of presence along coalition routes near Gereshk and Ghazni.

On May 25th a B-1B Lancer released GBU-31s on an enemy compound near Kajaki Dam for coalition forces receiving small arms fire. The bomber also dropped a GBU-38 on an enemy position. Coalition ground forces reported the successful hits.

The Lancer also supported ground forces under mortar attack and released a GBU-31 on an enemy firing position near Asadabad.

Near Oruzgan, a B-1B expended flares and chaff bundles while performing a show of force in reaction to an RPG attack and small arms fire on coalition forces.

In Afghanistan on May 26th a B-1B released a GBU-38 on an enemy compound near Asadabad. Coalition ground forces reported the strike as a direct hit. The B-1 also provided a show of presence over a coalition route in the area.

On May 28th a a B-1B executed shows of force, releasing flares to support a medical evacuation in Asadabad. There were no attacks reported after the show of force. The Lancer also conducted a show of presence for a convoy on a coalition route in the area.

Another B-1 showed force with flares to break up a developing riot in Farah. The show of force was called successful. The aircraft also performed shows of presence over a highway in the area.

On May 29th a B-1B dropped GBU-38s on enemy troops hiding in a treeline near Garmsir. Ground forces had taken mortar and rocket-propelled grenade fire before the strike. The bombs impacted their targeted area. The B-1 also dropped a GBU-31 on an insurgent compound in the area. The JTAC who requested the dropped reported a direct hit. The Lancer also conducted a show of presence over a coalition route in the area.

On May 30th a B-1B dropped GBU-38s on insurgents in an area around Asadabad. The B-1 also dropped a GBU-31 on the enemy targets. It also performed shows of force with flares to try to determine an enemy location in Kandahar. There were no reports of gunfire reported after the shows of force.

In Garmsir a B-1B dropped GBU-38s on an enemy firing position and GBU-31s on a building being used to attack coalition forces. The B-1 also provided air support after a helicopter crash in the area. A B-1B provided a show of force for a convoy moving near Qaleh-Ye Now.

The B-1B which made a wheels-up landing at Diego Garcia (86-0132) on May 8th 2006 finally returned to Dyess AFB via Spain on May 30th 2007.

On May 31st 2007 the following B-1Bs left Ellsworth AFB for Red Flag-Alaska 07-2 at Eielson AFB: 85-0060, 85-0079, 86-0093, 86-0099, 86-0102 and 86-0130.

On May 31st a B-1B performed shows of force with flares to regain control of hostile crowd moving toward a village in Orgun-E. The show of force was reported as successful. The B-1 also dropped a GBU-31 on an insurgent compound in Garmsir.

On June 1st a B-1B performed a show of force while attempting to deter incoming insurgents near Asadabad. Afterward, the B-1B provided a show of force and armed reconnaissance for a coalition convoy struck by an improvised explosive device.

On June 2nd a a B-1B performed a show of presence with multiple flares to disperse a crowd in Asadabad.

On June 4th a B-1B conducted a show of presence over a coalition route at Kajaki Dam.

On June 5th a B-1B conducted a show of force and shows of presence over a coalition route in Oruzgan.

On June 8th a B-1B dropped GBU-31s on enemy bunkers near Garmsir. The pilot was given the locations by a JTAC working with the coalition ground forces commander. The JTAC reported the strikes as direct hits and the complexes were destroyed. Prior to the bombing, the jet conducted a show of force using flares. The close-air-support was used to protect a stalled convoy.

In Tarin Kowt, a B-1B conducted a show of presence with flares over a forward operating base and along routes traveled by coalition convoys.

On June 9th a B-1B conducted multiple shows of force and presence over areas near Bala Morghab. No attacks were reported after the Lancer passed over the area. Another B-1 conducted shows of force and presence over areas near Qalat.

On June 10th a B-1B dropped a GBU-38 and GBU-31s on insurgents in Garmsir. The weapons impacted their targets. The bomber also provided shows of force expelling multiple flares in Kandahar. The aircrew then dropped GBU-38s on insurgents on a side of a hill in Qalat. They also dropped GBU-31s on more enemy targets in the area. All of the drops were reported as successful.

In Iraq, a B-1B dropped GBU-31s on bridges being used by insurgents to move improvised explosive devices. The bridges were destroyed by the weapons.

On June 11th in Afghanistan a B-1B dropped GBU-38s on an enemy compound in Tarin Kowt. The weapons were reported as good hits. The aircrew also conducted shows of presence, launching flares over coalition routes as well.

On June 12th a B-1B dropped GBU-38s and 31s on insurgents engaged with coalition forces in Oruzgan. The bombs were reported to have good effects and destroyed their targets. The aircrew also showed force over the area to support a medical evacuation unit.

Another B-1B successfully dropped GBU-38s on insurgents on a mountain peak in Oruzgan. The bomber also performed a show of force against a group of insurgents converging near a river in Asmar.

On July 12th 2007 B-1Bs 85-0090 and 86-0107 from the 28th BW arrived at RAF Fairford to participate in RIAT 2007. They departed on the 16th.

On July 20th 2007 more than 300 members of the 7th Bomb Wing deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas to take up the reins from the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron at Al Udeid AB. In two weeks the 9th EBS had logged about 25 missions, dropping bombs on enemy targets throughout Iraq and Afghanistan.

To help ease the transition, the 9th EBS deployed aircrews ahead of time to work and fly missions with the 34th EBS, known as "rainbow crews." Rainbow crews also pair new crewmembers with experienced crewmembers. That way, there will never be a completely inexperienced 9th EBS aircrew in the area of responsibility.

B-1B 85-0091, which had been at Boeing Long Beach for repair of its dorsal longeron since May, left on August 27th 2007.

In Iraq on September 5th 2007 a B-1B dropped GBU-38s on improvised explosive devices on a road in Baqubah. The bomber also dropped GBU-31s on roads being used by the enemy in Hawijah.

Twenty B-1Bs and more than 550 personnel from the 7th BW relocated to Ellsworth AFB in mid-September 2007 for two months to allow runway repairs to be carried out at Dyess.

B-1B 86-0133 landed at RAF Fairford on October 6th 2007 with only three engines. See here for some pictures.

This incident began on August 26th, when a fire warning alerted the crew of 86-0133 to a problem in the number four engine. The crew shut down the engine and applied emergency procedures, but the fire light remained illuminated. The aircrew successfully accomplished a three-engine landing at an undisclosed location within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility [probably Khandahar in Afghanistan], at which time flames were observed coming from the number four engine. The crew shut down the aircraft and followed emergency procedures to exit the aircraft while the fire was extinguished.

In mid-September approval was obtained to move the B-1B to a safer location. Eight enlisted maintenance personnel from the 654th CLSS traveled to the site of the crippled aircraft. Maintenance personnel from the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing had removed the engine. The 654th CLSS team capped and plugged all connections and made additional repairs for the one time flight.

To prepare for the flight, 10th FLTS aircrew members traveled to Dyess AFB, Texas. There they used the B-1 flight simulator to practice a variety of scenarios involving reduced thrust capability, changes in weight ratios created by the absence of one engine, and air refueling.

On October 2nd a joint aircrew composed of Air Force Reservists from the 10th FLTS and members from Air Combat Command began the journey to a safer environment.

"Under normal circumstances involving the B-1, the entire aircrew would have been from the 10th FLTS, since responsibility for all depot flying converted to Air Force Reserve Command units", explained Bob Wood, chief, flight operations and standardization and evaluation division, Headquarters AFMC/A3. "However, since the departure point occurred in a hostile zone and operational aircrews already were in theater, a joint aircrew made sense in case tactical maneuvers were required on takeoff".

The first leg of the journey was probably from Afghanistan to Al Udeid in Bahrain. The second leg was a eight-hour flight to RAF Fairford, which required two air-to-air refuellings. The aircraft arrived at Fairford on October 6th. It may take six months to repair the aircraft.

Four B-1Bs were at Nellis for Red Flag which started on October 29th 2007: 86-0100, 86-0108, 86-0124 and 86-0132.

On November 6th 2007 a B-1B struck an enemy firing position with a GBU-38 in Nowzad, Afghanistan. The strike suppressed attacks against friendly forces by enemy fire, and the firing position was reported as destroyed.

In Afghanistan on November 9th 2007, coalition forces came under intense enemy fire in Asadabad. A B-1B engaged the firing positions with GBU-31s.

On November 7th 2007 two B-1Bs from the 7th BW left Ellsworth AFB headed for Dyess, following completion of runway repairs at the Texas base. The remaining eighteen 7th BW aircraft were due to have returned to Dyess by November 14th.

On November 9th 2007 B-1B 86-0137 left for the Dubai air show, where it appeared in the static display.

On November 12th a B-1B expended GBU-38s and GBU-31s against enemy vehicles in Oruzgan. The vehicles were used by enemy combatants. The JTAC confirmed the enemy vehicles were destroyed and the mission was a success.

On November 30th 2007 B-1Bs 85-0061, 86-0100 and 86-0103 arrived at Nellis AFB to take part in the latest Red Flag exercise.

On December 3rd 2007 86-0135, rotating from the Gulf region, missed a tanker rendezvous (owing to the tanker going tech) and had to divert into RAF Mildenhall. On the other side of the Atlantic another fuel stop at Seymour-Johnson AFB was required on December 6th.

On December 9th 2007 the Pacific News Centre reported that 85-0066, which was badly damaged by fire at Andersen AFB in September 2005, was being repaired sufficiently to allow it to fly to Tinker AFB. The wing, nacelle and landing gear parts required to repair 85-0066 were removed from B-1s stored at AMARC. The parts then had to be trucked from Arizona to California, and loaded on a ship for their two-month journey to Guam. This will be the first time a wing has been replaced on a flyable B-1B in field conditions.

On December 24th 2007 a B-1B dropped GBU-31s against an Al-Qaeda compound northeast of Baqubah in Iraq, destroying the target.

On January 9th 2008 a B-1B destroyed an enemy modified bridge in Baqubah, Iraq with GBU-38s. The JTAC reported the strike a success.

On January 10th 2008 two B-1Bs and four F-16s dropped 40,000lb (18,144kg) of bombs on suspected al-Qaeda targets on the Arab Jabour district on the edge of Baghdad in a 10-minute air strike. The attack was part of the wider Operation Phantom Phoenix launched on January 8th.

In January 2008 the first B-1B arrived at Davis-Monthan AFB for the installation of a Sniper targeting pod. The pods are being fixed to redundant attachment points which were capable of carrying long-range air-launched nuclear cruise missiles. The attachment points were sealed after the United States signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with the then Soviet Union. The upgrades will take about two years to complete.

On March 8th 2008 B-1B 86-0138 was damaged at Andersen AFB on its way back to Ellsworth AFB from the Singapore Air Show. The crew reported an in-flight emergency necessitating a landing. After touching down the pilots proceeded to taxi the bomber, and after stopping on the taxiway were met by emergency crews, as per standard procedure. After the crew safely exited the aircraft, it began to roll independently, eventually colliding with a pair of emergency fire trucks nearby. The aircraft reportedly suffered significant damage to one of its wings and remains at AAFB under the examination of investigators.

At 14:07 local time on March 10th 2008 a B-1B Lancer aircrew destroyed an al-Qaida torture compound and prison with six 500lb GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions in Zenbaraniyah, south of Baghdad. The bombs struck the torture compound in a coordinated effort with Multi-National Division - Center officials and Iraqi forces.

On March 19th 2008 B-1B 86-0110 became the first USAF aircraft to make a supersonic flight on a blend of 50% JP-8 and 50% Syntroleum fuel. The latter is produced from natural gas using the Fischer-Tropsch process. The supersonic flight was made over the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, but the aircraft took off from and returned to Dyess AFB.

Also on March 19th 85-0069 declared an in-flight emergency and landed at Dyess with its flaps and slats locked up.

On March 20th 2008 B-1B 86-0099 took off on a training mession from Ellsworth AFB and immediately experienced a fire in the number 3 engine. The mishap started eight small grass fires and damaging two fences on private property. The crew was able to shut down the No 3 engine and land the aircraft. Damage to the aircraft was estimated at $923,213.05.

The accident was determined to have been caused by FOD damage to an engine fuel spray bar. The FOD make a hole in the spray bar that directed fuel between the exhaust duct amd exhaust nozzle liner. This fuel ignited, burning through the exhaust duct into the engine's outer shroud. When the crew shut down the engine, the fuel source was eliminated, and the fire stopped.

B-1Bs 85-0074 and 86-0110 flew to Santiago in Chile for the FIDAE airshow from March 23rd to 28th 2008.

On March 27th 2008 a B-1B carried out a flypast of Vandenburg AFB during a dedication ceremony for a memorial to President Ronald Reagan.

At the end of March 2008 86-0123 was at Eglin AFB for tail warning radar function tests, and Sniper pod training with F-16s. It had to fly back to Dyess with its gear down owing to a fault.

On March 31st a B-1B made a flypast of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, presumably to mark the start of the baseball season.

On April 4th 2008 B-1B 86-0116 from the 28th BW caught fire at al-Udeid AB while taxiing in after landing. The crew evacuated the aircraft. The incident occured at 2120 local time (1820 GMT).

It was subsequently reported that an hydraulic failure caused the B-1B 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". The aircraft was completely destroyed.

Also on April 4th, 86-0133 left RAF Fairford for Dyess, after having its fire-damaged engine replaced.

The B-1B availability rate fell to 51.1% in 2007, down from 2003ís rate of 56%. The mission-capable rate reduced from 70.7% in 2003 to 61.2% in 2007, the lowest since 2001. In contrast, in 2007 the B-52H Stratofortress had an availability rate of 65% and a mission-capable rate of 75.8%.

The B-1B is also experiencing worsening accident rates. In 2007 there were 13 Class B accidents, which came out to 52.36 accidents for every 100,000 flying hours. Most of the accidents involved engine problems. Over the past five years, the B-1B averaged 10 Class B accidents for a rate of 43.59. A Class B accident is a mishap that cost from $250,000 to $1 million to repair.

The worsening maintenance and accident rates come as B-1Bs are in the sky more often. In 2007, the jets logged about 24,850 flight hours, compared with an average of 22,250 hours over the past five years. In March alone, deployed B-1Bs flew 83 combat sorties with the average flight lasting more than 11 hours.

During early 2008 the Edwards Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force and the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron from Dyess AFB combined the operational and developmental test of a B-1B Lancer at Edwards to accelerate the bomber's Sniper pod program from nine months down to three, which will allow the B-1 Sniper pod to be operational as early as summer 2008.

"The targeting pod is probably one of the most significant upgrades to the B-1", said Capt. Brandon Miller, B-1 flight commander and 419th FLTS targeting pod project pilot. "This is significantly going to decrease the time from a request for a bomb on a target, to actually dropping a weapon, creating the desired lethal effects and then being able to assess and re-attack if necessary".

On June 16th 2008 it was reported that senators and congressmen from South Dakota and Texas wanted the Air Force to explain what it will do to turn around the B-1B's falling readiness numbers. They are worried that the Air Force will attempt to pay for B-1B parts and upgrades by cutting the number of aircraft. The service did just that in 2002, cutting the B-1B fleet from 92 to 67 planes.

By the end of fiscal 2007, the B-1Bís mission-capable rate had fallen to 61.2 percent, the lowest since 2001. The B-1Bís availability rate (the overall percentage of B-1Bs available to fly, including jets out of service for depot-level repairs and inspections) fell to 51.1 percent in 2007, down from 2003ís rate of 56 percent.

B-1B 85-0087 launched the 28th Bomb Wing's first local training sortie with the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod on June 10th 2008.

A B-1B from the 34th EBS equipped with the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod had its first weapon employment in combat in Afghanistan on August 4th 2008, successfully targeting enemy forces on the ground and dropping one GBU-38 in support of Operation "Enduring Freedom".

A brake metering valve failure caused B-1B 86-0138, assigned to the 28th Bomb Wing, to collide with two aircraft rescue firefighting vehicles at Andersen AFB on March 7th 2008, according to an Air Combat Command accident investigation board (released on September 3rd 2008).

The board determined that the aircraft began to roll forward after engine shutdown. Malfunction of the right hand brake metering valve caused depletion of the associated brake system accumulators, rendering the aircraft's brake systems inoperative when the engines shut down. There were no injuries. Damage to the B-1B and the two firefighting vehicles assigned to Andersen AFB totaled $5.8 million.

Contributing factors to the mishap included a slight taxiway declination, failure of the aircraft to be chalked in a timely manner and the inability of the firefighting vehicles to successfully clear the path of the rolling B-1B. The in-flight loss of the #3 hydraulic system due to improper swage operations and post-task inspection caused the initial in-flight emergency that necessitated landing at Andersen AB, so it was also cited as a substantial contributing factor.

On September 12th 2008 B-1B 85-0073 (assigned to the 7th Bomb Wing but loaned to Ellsworth AFB) was on a training mission out of Ellsworth when an electrical problem prompted the crew to declare an in-flight emergency. After spending more than an hour burning off fuel, the jet touched down (apparently without flaps) at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The hard landing burned up the brakes and blew the tires. Damage was estimated at over $1 million.

The report into the loss of B-1B 86-0116 on 4th April 2008 concluded that the near-simultaneous failure of two hydraulic systems on the aircraft caused a ground collision with concrete security barriers and a fire that destroyed the aircraft and damaged two others. Damage to the B-1B and two C-130J aircraft totalled $346 million.

Despite explosions and a fire that burned into the next day, no one was injured. The B-1Bís four crew members ó aircraft commander and pilot Maj. Norman Shelton, pilot Capt. Brett Sailsbery, offensive systems officer Capt. Eric Alvarez and defensive systems officer Capt. Scott Martley escaped from the aircraft by climbing through a roof hatch and sheltering in a drainage culvert.

According to the investigation board's report, this is how it happened. As the bomber returned from an 11-hour mission over Afghanistan, the crew reported no noteworthy mechanical issues other than a problem with the radar.

With a bomb bay holding 2,000lb bombs and fuel tanks holding 40,000lb of gas, the jet made a normal landing at around 9 p.m. local and headed toward the B-1B flight line. But as the bomber taxied, the plane turned left by itself. Aircraft commander Shelton stopped the plane and realized warning lights were on, indicating problems with nose wheel steering and hydraulics. As a precaution, Shelton engaged the parking brake, but it malfunctioned. Shelton then tried the emergency parking brake. It failed, too. Suddenly, Shelton was behind the stick of a rolling 230,000+ lb jet with no brakes or steering.

The jet turned to the right on its own and began to go north along a taxiway at about 3 mph, aimed at a C-130 parking ramp. Shelton countered the right-hand turn by speeding up the jetís right-side No. 4 engine, while keeping the other engines at idle. It worked but accelerated the jet to 14 mph. Shelton decided to shut down the engines and slow the plane, forgoing steering the jet.

By now the aircrew had lost control of the jet. The B-1B rolled off the taxiway and into a 7ft concrete barrier protecting the C-130 parking ramp. The impact collapsed the bomberís front landing gear but it kept going for a further 53 feet until the engines and main landing gear struck the wall. The jet lurched downward, breaking open a fuel line or tank and causing a massive fuel leak.

After discovering the entry door in the jetís belly would not open, the aircrew scrambled out of an overhead escape hatch. They used a rope to lower themselves to the ground and into a pool of jet fuel nearly 8 inches deep. The airmen ran to a meeting point about 100 yards from the jet's nose. Then explosions rang out from the jet, and they ran a couple of hundred yards farther to the safety of a culvert. The crew stayed in the culvert for another 45 minutes as the plane burned and detonations erupted.

Al Udeid firefighters arrived at the scene after the crew had escaped, but called off their efforts to put out the fire when explosions began. The fire was so dangerous, base officials waited 18 hours for the blaze to burn itself out. They also shut down fight operations at the base for several hours. The concern was justified: when emergency workers combed through the wreckage, they found a pair of unexploded 2,000-pound bombs.

On January 23rd 2009 two 7th BW B-1Bs (86-0124 and 86-0109, call signs Rama 31 and 32) diverted into RAF Mildenhall after their tankers were unable to make the AAR rendezvous owing to severe weather. They departed the following day, en route to a "deployed location". On January 26th 86-0115 arrived at Mildenhall, and departed the following day.

B-1B 86-0121, which was heading to the RAAF base at Avalon for an air show, made a precautionary landing at Melbourne Airport on March 7th after the crew reported a problem with the aircraft's landing gear. The aircraft remained on the runway for about an hour as emergency crews sized up the situation before it moved to the ramp under its own power. 86-0099 also attended the show.

In May 2009 Boeing returned B-1B 86-0125 to the Air Force following the replacement of the aircraft's upper-center boron longeron, which was damaged during a routine training mission in December 2007. A broken weld on a duct line carrying 500-degree bleed air from the engines flooded the area housing the longeron, debonding epoxy holding the composite boron stiffener from the titanium of the longeron. Although still airworthy, the damage effectively grounded the aircraft from combat operations.

After arrival at Long Beach, the first step was removing the 47-foot-long longeron, an operation which took two weeks. A refurbished bonding jig, along with the longeron in a newly-made transportation fixture, was sent to Boeing's Seattle facility for bonding with the boron. The boron was applied to the longeron in 330 layers totaling four inches deep and four inches wide. It was then cured under pressure for 24 hours in the only autoclave large enough to hold the backbone. The finished product returned to Long Beach for installation in the B-1.

On July 30th 2009 85-0068 completed the first flight of a B-1B upgraded with the Fully Integrated Data Link (FIDL). This upgrade includes new processors, color displays and communications architecture, enhancing B-1 crews' situational awareness and communications capability. The U.S. Air Force 419th Test Squadron conducted the flight from Edwards AFB. The aircraft had spent over two years being updated with FIDL.

The objective of the FIDL development program is to enhance the B-1 bomber by integrating beyond-line-of-sight and line-of-sight data links. The data links reduce crew workload by dynamically re-tasking missions, eliminating the need for steps such as manual entry of weapons data for targeting.

In addition to the cockpit upgrades, the modification also improves and more tightly integrates the aft crew stations by replacing displays and associated hardware that were installed during aircraft production in the early 1980s. Additional upgrades include new open-architecture processors, mass-storage capability and an Ethernet network to integrate the aircraft's systems.

On November 2nd 2009 a B-1B crew from Ellsworth AFB received the Mackay Trophy for the most meritorious Air Force flight in 2008, a mission that slowed down a major Taliban attack against a U.S. outpost in Afghanistan. The battle of Wanat was the single deadliest attack against U.S. forces since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan. Nine soldiers died and more than two dozen were wounded in the battle on July 13th, 2008. The B-1B, callsign "Bone 23", helped blunt the Taliban attack with three bombs before it had to break off to refuel.

Pilot Maj. Norman Shelton, co-pilot Capt. Boyd Smith and weapons systems officers Capts. Kaylene Giri and Louis Heidema received the award.

B-1B 85-0077 was saved from a potentially catastrophic fire and explosion when it made an emergency landing at Al-Udeid AB on January 18th 2010, thanks to the quick reactions of two NCOs, who notified the crew that #3 brake and tyre were on fire and then tackled the blaze with two fire bottles. The aircraft was fully loaded with bombs at the time.

Under the US Air Force Research Laboratory's Electric Laser on Large Aircraft (ELLA) program, General Atomics and Textron Systems are developing rival versions of DARPA's 150 kW Hellads laser, with the goal of developing a laser weapon system weighing less than 5 kg/kW. The intention is to install the laser into the weapons bay of a B-1B and carry out flight tests against tactical targets.

The laser will be housed in a laser weapon system module (LWSM), which will be installed in the B-1B by removing the weapons bay door. The base of the LWSM will match the shape of the removed door. The B-1B's Sniper pod will be used to target the laser.

On April 29th 2010 a Dyess B-1B set an unofficial time-to-climb world record by carrying a payload of 5000kg to an altitude of 9000m in 4 minutes 47 seconds. The aircraft was piloted by Maj. Stephen Gerken and Maj. Paul Jones with Lt. Col. Justin Boldenow and Maj. Matt McKinney as weapons system officers.

Also on April 29th the 25th Anniversary Banquet celebrating the delivery of the first B-1 Bomber to Dyess was held at the Abilene Civic Center.

On April 30th 2010 a Dyess B-1B set an unofficial time-to-climb world record by carrying a payload of 5000kg to an altitude of 6000m in 3 minutes 28 seconds. The aircraft was piloted by Lt. Col. Brian Wallace and Capt. Brian Buschur; Maj. Michael Gerney and Capt. Diego Uribe were the weapons system officers.

On May 1st 2010 a Dyess B-1B set an unofficial time-to-climb world record by carrying a payload of 5000kg to an altitude of 3000m in 2 minutes 25 seconds. The pilots were Lt. Col. Michael Starr and Maj. William P. Alcorn Jr., and the WSOs were Maj. Scott Hall and Maj. Brian Owen. All three records had previously been held by the C-17.

Flight tests of a B-1B Lancer upgraded with new digital avionics for the aft cockpit, including a line-of-sight Link 16 data link, has started. The first flight took place on June 4th 2010 at Edwards Air Force Base.

On June 12th 2010 B-1B 85-0087 reached the 10000 flight hours milestone during a mission from Al Udeid AB. Since 2001 B-1Bs have flown more than 7,500 combat sorties for 85,000 hours. Since the 34th EBS arrived in theater in January 2010, they have flown almost 500 combat sorties totaling close to 6,000 hours.

On September 7th 2010 a Dyess-based B-1B carried a full load of 24 AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles on a five-hour flight over the Gulf of Mexico.

On March 27th 2011 four B-1Bs (including 85-0060, 86-0095 and 86-0138) from the 28th Bomb Wing took off from Ellsworth AFB to attack targets in Libya as part of Operation Oddysey Dawn. It seems that only 85-0060 and 86-0095 released ordnance, so the other two were probably air spares. According to the British press, the targets were ammunition bunkers in the central Libyan town of Sebha. The attack was co-ordinated with RAF Tornados which launched Storm Shadow cruise missiles. This mission was the first time that B-1Bs had launched combat sorties from the continental United States to strike targets overseas.

In December 2012 B-1B 86-0115 became the first B-1B to reach 5000 combat hours and 1000 deployed days.

On August 19th 2013 B-1B 85-0091 from the 34th Bomb Squadron, 28th Bomb Wing crashed near Broadus, Montana, during a routine training mission. All four crew members on board ejected safely, but all sustained some injuries. The crew members were Maj Frank Biancardi II, Instructor Pilot; Capt Curtis Michael, Instructor Pilot; Capt Chad Nishizuka, Instructor Weapon Systems Officer; Capt Brandon Packard, Instructor Weapon Systems Officer.

The accident investigation report, published on December 30th 2013, found that a displaced fold-down baffle in the aircraft's left overwing fairing cut the main fuel line while the wings were being swept aft, which led to a fuel leak and a series of detonations that disabled the aircraft before it broke in two and crashed.

On January 21st 2014 the first B-1B equipped with the Boeing Integrated Battle Station was delivered to the 7th BW. The IBS upgrade, the most extensive modification program in B-1 history, enhances the bomber by giving crews greater situational awareness of the battlespace around them, in addition to faster and more secure communication capabilities that improve crews’ ability to engage enemy targets.

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© David Hastings