Out of the boneyard and into the force: B-1B Lancer to be resurrected from AMARG to rejoin USAF Strategic Bomber Fleet

Out of the boneyard and into the force: B-1B Lancer to be resurrected from AMARG to rejoin USAF Strategic Bomber Fleet

By Dario Leone
Apr 1 2024
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B-1B Lancer regeneration

Out of the boneyard and into the force: starting in October 2023, Dyess Air Force Base and Tinker AFB maintenance teams began to demilitarize a damaged B-1B Lancer at Dyess AFB and subsequently facilitated the regeneration of a B-1B that will join Dyess’ fleet later this year.

On April 20, 2022, an aircraft experienced a catastrophic engine failure and fire while completing a ground engine run. The aircraft had a damaged engine, left wing and multiple fuel lines. The impounded aircraft was released to maintenance after the safety investigation board was complete.

Following an aircraft wash, maintenance personnel prepared the aircraft to salvage 49 parts valued at over $2.7 million. Personnel transported salvageable parts to squadrons at Dyess AFB for training purposes. The left wing and left nacelle were transported to the 436th Training Squadron crash lab, the only crash lab in Air Combat Command, to support their aircraft mishap investigation course.

Out of the boneyard and into the force: B-1B Lancer to be resurrected from AMARG to rejoin USAF Strategic Bomber Fleet
A B-1B Lancer from the 498th Bomb Group is transported from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, Jan. 24, 2024. Later this year, a regenerated aircraft from Davis-Monthan AFB will be replacing the aircraft.

The fuselage was recently transported to the National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University in Kansas to facilitate the forward intermediate fuselage super panel prototype. The first B-1B digital twin prototype of the entire aircraft is underway at the NIAR.

“This is an example of our team thriving despite some initial adversity,” said Col. Joshua Pope, 7th Maintenance Group commander, to Airman 1st Class Emma Anderson, 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs, for the article Dyess B-1B Lancer: Road to Regeneration. “The demilitarization project facilitated proactive inspections and the repair of structural components by personnel, reducing repair costs, timelines, and the impact on aircraft availability, all while upholding fleet safety.”

Lancer bombers retired at AMARG

Team Dyess is looking forward to the new arrival to replace the B-1B that was demilitarized. This aircraft recently left the “Boneyard” at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG), Davis-Monthan AFB and landed at Tinker AFB for heavy restoration and maintenance. After numerous inspections and upgrades, the aircraft will join the Dyess fleet later this year.

The US Air Force (USAF) retired 17 B-1s between February and September 2021. Service officials said at the time that restoring them to “status quo” would cost tens of millions of dollars per aircraft, while retiring them would allow maintainers to focus their time and resources toward keeping the remaining aircraft mission capable.

Out of the boneyard and into the force: B-1B Lancer to be resurrected from AMARG to rejoin USAF Strategic Bomber Fleet
A B-1B Lancer from the 498th Bomb Group prepares to be transported at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, Jan. 23, 2024. The fuselage was recently transported to the National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University in Kansas to facilitate the forward intermediate fuselage super panel prototype.

Air Force Global Strike Command noted at the time that four of the 17 bombers would be maintained “in a reclaimable condition.”

B-1B Lancer to be resurrected from AMARG to rejoin USAF Strategic Bomber Fleet

“The fact that our Air Force can call up an aircraft that has sat dormant for several years and prepare it to support our long-range strike mission, all within a year, is incredible,” said Col. Seth Spanier, 7th Bomb Wing commander. “This entire effort speaks to our unwavering commitment to maintaining a combat-credible strike force.”

The last bomber to return to active service after a stretch in the desert boneyard was a B-52 that returned to keep the fleet at the congressionally mandated size of 76 airframes. The USAF retired 33 B-1s in 2003, only to later bring seven back by September 2004 after receiving a mandate from Congress.

According to Air & Space Forces Magazine, the B-1 fleet is projected to remain in the active inventory into the 2030s, when the new B-21 Raider comes on board. The Air Force has been upgrading its remaining B-1s with new technology as part of what it calls the B-1 Embracing Agile Scheduling Team (BEAST) program.

B-1B print
This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. B-1B Lancer 28th FW, 34th BS Thunderbirds, EL/86-129 / 2005

Photo credit: Airman 1st Class Emma Anderson / U.S. Air Force


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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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