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B-1B Lancer crashes at Ellsworth AFB
A US Air Force (USAF) B-1B Lancer strategic bomber assigned to Ellsworth Air Force Base (AFB) crashed at approximately 5:50 p.m. on Jan. 4, 2024 while attempting to land on the installation. At the time of the accident, it was on a training mission. According to an Ellsworth Air Force Base (AFB) statement, there were four aircrew on board. All four ejected safely.
As reported by Air & Space Forces Magazine, the incident occurred during poor weather in below-freezing temperatures with dense fog limiting visibility, according to local weather reports. Radio traffic from local first responders said there was an “active fire” after an “explosion.”
Ellsworth AFB closed to flight operations
According to a Notice to Airmen/Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) advisory issued soon after the incident, Ellsworth has been closed to flight operations.
Ellsworth AFB is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, near Rapid City. Along with Dyess AFB it is one of only two B-1 bases. The 28th Bomb Wing, which is located there, operates over 20 B-1s, according to the base. The USAF has 45 B-1s in its inventory.
A typical B-1 crew consists of two pilots and two weapons systems officers, all with ejection seats.
Ellsworth is slated to receive the first operational B-21 Raider stealth bombers, which are scheduled to fully replace the B-1.
The B-1B Lancer
Carrying the largest conventional payload of both guided and unguided weapons in the Air Force inventory, the multi-mission B-1B Lancer is the backbone of America’s long-range bomber force. It can rapidly deliver massive quantities of precision and non-precision weapons against any adversary, anywhere in the world, at any time.
The B-1B’s blended wing/body configuration, variable-geometry wings and turbofan afterburning engines, combine to provide long range, maneuverability and high speed while enhancing survivability. Forward wing settings are used for takeoff, landings, air refueling and in some high-altitude weapons employment scenarios. Aft wing sweep settings – the main combat configuration — are typically used during high subsonic and supersonic flight, enhancing the B-1B’s maneuverability in the low- and high-altitude regimes.
The B-1B’s speed and superior handling characteristics allow it to seamlessly integrate in mixed force packages. These capabilities, when combined with its substantial payload, excellent radar targeting system, long loiter time and survivability, make the B-1B a key element of any joint/composite strike force.
Photo credit: irman 1st Class Christina Bennett / U.S. Air Force