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Rockwell B-1 Lancer


The Rockwell B-1 resulted from a November 1969 requirement for a medium-altitude with dash capability of Mach 2.2+ for the high-speed delivery of free-fall and stand-off nuclear weapons. Submissions were received from several companies, Rockwell’s design being selected in 1970 as the B-1A. The full-scale design and development programme for the initial production version was soon under way. The initial model was a complex and highly advanced variable-geometry type with General Electric F101 turbofans and fully variable inlets for maximum capability in all elements of the flight envelope.

The first of four prototypes (71-40158) of the Rockwell International B-1 four-turbofan strategic heavy bomber made its maiden flight on 23 December 1974; designed to meet USAF Strategic Air Command's Advanced Manned Strategic Aircraft (AMSA) requirement, it incorporated variable geometry wings (maximum sweep of 67 degrees), accommodated a four-man crew and had an estimated maximum speed of Mach 2 at altitude.

In June 1977 President Carter decided to scrap the programme in favour of cruise missile development although flight trials with the B-1A aircraft were to be continued for research purposes, the flight testing continued through 1981 with the four prototypes.

Then with the inauguration of President Reagan matters began to look up again, the new administration deciding during October 1981 to procure 100 examples of a much revised B-1B version in the low-level penetration role for high-subsonic delivery of free-fall and stand-off weapons. The B-lB was.therefore a straightforward but nonetheless major adaptation of the B-1A optimized for the low-level transonic role with fixed inlets and revised nacelles (reducing maximum speed to Mach 1.25). But it did have a strengthened airframe and landing gear for operation at higher weights with nuclear and conventional weapons over very long ranges. Other changes were concerned with reduction of the type’s already low radar signature, S-shaped ducts with streamwise baffles being adopted to shield the face of the engine compressors and radar absorbent materials being installed in sensitive areas to reduce electromagnetic reflectivity. The second and fourth B-lAs were used from March 1983 to flight-test features of the B-1B, which first flew in September 1984 with the advanced offensive and defensive electronic systems.

The first production B-1B flew on October 18, 1984, some five months ahead of schedule. Two B-1A development aircraft had previously been converted to B-1B standard, the first flying in B-1B form in March 1983. Production deliveries began in July 1985, to replace B-52Hs in the penetration role, and will continue until 1988.

The ninth B-1B was the first to be fitted with a moveable bulkhead in the forward weapons bay, enabling it to carry eight AGM-86 air-launched cruise missiles (ALCM), short-range attack missiles (Sram), and extra fuel tanks internally. Maximum ALCM loading is eight missiles internally and 14 externally on eight underfuselage hardpoints.

Initial Operational Capability was first achieved on 1 October 1986.

In January 1987 a B-1B successfully launched a short-range-attack missile for the first time, while in April an aircraft from the 96th Bomb Wing at Dyess AFB, Texas, completed a 2l hr 40min mission including five in-flight refuellings (to maintain a high aircraft weight), covering a distance of 15,145km (8,175 nm).

The final B-1B was delivered 2 May 1988.

The B-1B Lancer were modified and aircrews were trained for the use of conventional weapons, including stand-off and laser guided weapons, and did flew combat missions during Operation Desert Fox.

Also in 1999 the B-1s flew bombing missions using conventional weapons against Yugoslavia as part of Operation Allied Force.





Powerplant: four 136.92 kN (30,780 lb st) General Electric F101-GE-102 afterburning turbofans
Length 44.81m (147 ft 0 in)
Height 10.36m (34 ft 10 in)
Wing span (fully swept 67 deg) 23.84m (78ft 2½ in), (fully spread 15 deg) 41.67 (136 ft 8½ in)
Wing area: 181.16 sq.m / 1949.99 sq ft
Empty, equipped weight 87091 kg (192,000 lb)
Max Take-Off Weight 215.365 kg (477,000 lb)
Fuel internal: 91,000 lt
Max level speed at high altitude Mach 1.25 or 1324 km/h (823 mph)
Penetration speed at 61m (200 ft) Mach 0.9 or 965 km/h (600 mph)
Service ceiling above 15,240m (50,000 ft)
Armament: up to 34020 kg (75,000 lb) of ordnance / 22 AGM 86B (Cruise Missile) / 38 SRAMS
Internal weapon bays; 3
Range internal fuel: 6480 nm / 12000 km / 7457 miles
Air refuel: Yes
Crew: 4





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