Facts About the B-1B Lancer Bomber

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer overflies Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.
Rob Edgcumbe/Stocktrek Images / Getty Images
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B-1B Bomber

B-1B Lancer Bomber
B-1B Lancer Bomber. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force

The B-1B Lancer Bomber is the U.S. Air Force's long-range intercontinental bomber capable of missions throughout the world with a minimum of refueling.

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B-1B Lancer Bomber

B-1B Lancer Bomber
B-1B Lancer Bomber. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force

This multi-mission aircraft can deliver weapons anywhere in the world thanks to its versatility. 

The B-1B's blended wing/body configuration, variable-geometry wings and turbofan afterburning engines give it expert maneuverability and allow it to travel at extremely high speeds. The forward wings are used for landings, takeoffs, in-air refueling, and some weapons employment. The craft's aft wing sweep settings are designed for high subsonic and supersonic flight, which gives the B-1B Lancer capabilities in both low- and high-altitude settings.

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More on the B-1B Bomber

B-1B Bomber Being De-Iced
B-1B Bomber Being De-Iced. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force

The radar system in the B-1Bcan target, track and engage moving crafts, and self-target on land. The global positioning system Inertial Navigation System allows the aircraft to navigate areas without help from land-based stations and engage targets precisely. 

It has a fully integrated data link (FIDL) with Link-16 capability that gives it even better battlefield awareness as well as secure reach-back connectivity beyond the craft's line of sight. When it is in time-sensitive situations, the crew can leverage the use of data from the Combined Air Operations Center or other command and control assets to hit targets quickly and effectively.

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B-1 Radar Capabilities

Airmen standing in front of a B-1B Lancer bomber
Airmen standing in front of a B-1B Lancer bomber. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force

The radar warning receiver (ALQ-161) excels at detecting the full spectrum of threats from adversaries and can deploy jamming techniques.  

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B-1 Bomber Facts

B-1B Bomber Engines
B-1B Bomber Engines. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force

As for more facts about the B-1 bomber, let's start with the B-1A. It was developed in the 1970s as the aircraft that would replace the B-52 bomber. Authorities were testing four prototypes but the program was canceled in 1977 before anything could go into production. Flight tests, however, continued into 1981.

President Ronald Reagan's administration initiated the B-1B bombers. They changed it up from the B-1A by adding the payload and improving the radar. The first B-1 took off in 1984 and the first B-1B bomber was delivered in Texas in 1985. On May 2, 1988, the final B-1B was ready to go.

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The B-1B Bomber Expands

B-1B Bomber On Runway
B-1B Bomber On Runway. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force

During 1994, the U.S. stopped its nuclear mission for the B-1, but it was still a top choice for a nuclear armament bomber. In 2007, the conversion of it to a conventional aircraft only started. 

When it comes to speed, payload, range, and time of climb, the B-1 holds several records.

In 1998, it was first used to support operations in Iraq. The next year, six B-1s were used in Operation Allied Force to deliver support. Throughout the first six months of Operation Enduring Freedom, eight B-1s dropped nearly 40 percent of the total tonnage provided by coalition air forces. The B-1 continues to be deployed by the military today.

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Nicknaming the B-1B Lancer

Loading bomb onto B-1B Lancer Bomber
Loading bomb onto B-1B Lancer Bomber. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force

Fun fact: The B-1B Lancer is also known as "The Bone."

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B-1B Bomber Facts

B-1B Bomber In Flight
B-1B Bomber In Flight. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force

According to Boeing, here are more details on the B-1B Lancer:

  • Function: Long-range, multi-role, heavy bomber
  • Power plant: Four General Electric F101-GE-102 turbofan engine with afterburner
  • Thrust: 30,000-plus pounds with afterburner, per engine
  • Wingspan:137 ft. extended forward, 79 ft. swept aft
  • Length: 146 ft.
  • Height: 34 ft.
  • Weight: Approximately 190,000 lbs.