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AFGSC paving way for B-21, begins retirement of B-1 aircraft

A B-1B lancer that is being divested takes off from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., for the final time Feb. 17, 2021. Divesting aircraft with the least amount of usable life allows the Air Force to prioritize investment in the health of the remaining fleet and crew training. (U.S.  Air Force photo by Airman Jonah Fronk)

A B-1B lancer that is being divested takes off from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., for the final time Feb. 17, 2021. Divesting aircraft with the least amount of usable life allows the Air Force to prioritize investment in the health of the remaining fleet and crew training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jonah Fronk)

Master Sgt. David Jackson, the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron production superintendent, salutes a B-1B Lancer that is being divested prior to its final launch from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 17, 2021. The divestiture of the B-1 is necessary in order for the Air Force to create an even more lethal, agile and sustainable force with a greater competitive edge in today’s fight. (U.S.  Air Force photo by Airman Jonah Fronk)

Master Sgt. David Jackson, the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron production superintendent, salutes a B-1B Lancer that is being divested prior to its final launch from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 17, 2021. The divestiture of the B-1 is necessary in order for the Air Force to create an even more lethal, agile and sustainable force with a greater competitive edge in today’s fight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jonah Fronk)

Master Sgt. David Jackson, the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron production superintendent, renders a farewell salute a B-1B Lancer being divested prior to its final departure from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 17, 2021. This limited aircraft divestiture will contribute to funding investments in key capabilities for the future bomber force and allow B-1B maintainers to focus their efforts on the healthiest B-1s that remain in the fleet.  (U.S.  Air Force photo by Airman Jonah Fronk)

Master Sgt. David Jackson, the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron production superintendent, renders a farewell salute a B-1B Lancer being divested prior to its final departure from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 17, 2021. This limited aircraft divestiture will contribute to funding investments in key capabilities for the future bomber force and allow B-1B maintainers to focus their efforts on the healthiest B-1s that remain in the fleet. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jonah Fronk)

Airman 1st Class Darrian Clough, a 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels specialist, fuels a B-1B Lancer being divested prior to its final takeoff from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 17, 2021. The divestiture of the B-1 is necessary in order for the Air Force to create an even more lethal, agile and sustainable force with a greater competitive edge in today’s fight. (U.S.  Air Force photo by Airman Jonah Fronk)

Airman 1st Class Darrian Clough, a 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels specialist, fuels a B-1B Lancer being divested prior to its final takeoff from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 17, 2021. The divestiture of the B-1 is necessary in order for the Air Force to create an even more lethal, agile and sustainable force with a greater competitive edge in today’s fight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jonah Fronk)

A B-1B Lancer is prepared for divestiture at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 16, 2021. The planned divestment of 17 B-1B aircraft supports the shaping of the B-1B fleet so that it remains a healthy and effective long-range precision strike force. The remaining fleet that will provide margin across the bomber transition and incur cost avoidance to reach the future bomber fleetforce faster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Quentin Marx)

A B-1B Lancer is prepared for divestiture at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 16, 2021. The planned divestment of 17 B-1B aircraft supports the shaping of the B-1B fleet so that it remains a healthy and effective long-range precision strike force. The remaining fleet that will provide margin across the bomber transition and incur cost avoidance to reach the future bomber fleetforce faster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Quentin Marx)

Marks identifying a B-1B Lancer as assigned to Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., are removed at the base Feb. 16, 2021, prior to the aircraft’s divestiture. Divesting aircraft with the least amount of usable life allows Air Force Global Strike Command to prioritize the health of the fleet and crew training. The ability to balance these priorities will make the current bomber fleet more capable overall and give it more capacity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jonah Fronk)

Marks identifying a B-1B Lancer as assigned to Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., are removed at the base Feb. 16, 2021, prior to the aircraft’s divestiture. Divesting aircraft with the least amount of usable life allows Air Force Global Strike Command to prioritize the health of the fleet and crew training. The ability to balance these priorities will make the current bomber fleet more capable overall and give it more capacity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jonah Fronk)

Airmen 1st Class Antonio Artiaga and Kane Eubanks, both from the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, prepare a B-1B Lancer for divestiture at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 16, 2021. The divestment of 17 B-1 aircraft from the fleet is the beginning of the retirement of legacy bombers that will pave the way for the B-21 Bomber to be brought online. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jonah Fronk)

Airmen 1st Class Antonio Artiaga and Kane Eubanks, both from the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, prepare a B-1B Lancer for divestiture at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 16, 2021. The divestment of 17 B-1 aircraft from the fleet is the beginning of the retirement of legacy bombers that will pave the way for the B-21 Bomber to be brought online. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jonah Fronk)

A B-1B Lancer is being prepared for divestiture at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 16, 2021. The planned divestment of 17 B-1B aircraft supports the shaping of the B-1B fleet so that it remains a healthy and effective long-range precision strike force that will provide margin across the bomber transition and incur cost avoidance to reach the future force faster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jonah Fronk)

A B-1B Lancer is being prepared for divestiture at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 16, 2021. The planned divestment of 17 B-1B aircraft supports the shaping of the B-1B fleet so that it remains a healthy and effective long-range precision strike force that will provide margin across the bomber transition and incur cost avoidance to reach the future force faster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jonah Fronk)

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --

In support of its efforts to modernize America’s bomber fleet, the United States Air Force will begin divesting 17 B-1B bombers from its current fleet as authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act.

This action will not affect the service’s lethality or any associated maintenance manpower. It will allow officials to focus maintenance and depot-level manpower on the remaining aircraft, increasing readiness and paving the way for the bomber fleet modernization ready to meet future challenges.

“Beginning to retire legacy bombers, to make way for the B-21 Raider, is something we have been working toward for some time,” said Gen. Tim Ray, Air Force Global Strike Command commander. “Due to the wear and tear placed on the B-1 fleet over the past two decades, maintaining these bombers would cost 10s of millions of dollars per aircraft to get back to status quo. And that’s just to fix the problems we know about. We’re just accelerating planned retirements.”

The 17 B-1B aircraft will be retired from the current fleet of 62 B-1s, leaving 45 in the active fleet. Of the 17 B-1 aircraft, four will be required to remain in a reclaimable condition that is consistent with Type 2000 recallable storage.

Continuous combat operations over the last 20 years have taken a toll on the airframe’s structure. Currently, a small portion of the B-1Bs are in a state that will require approximately ten to thirty million dollars per aircraft to get back to a status quo fleet in the short term until the B-21 comes online.

“Retiring aircraft with the least amount of usable life allows us to prioritize the health of the fleet and crew training,” Ray said. “Our ability to balance these priorities will make us more capable and lethal overall.”

With fewer aircraft in the B-1 fleet, maintainers will be able to give more time and attention to each aircraft.

“The divestiture of the B-1 is necessary in order for the Air Force to create an even more lethal, agile and sustainable force with a greater competitive edge for tomorrow’s fight,” Ray said.

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