Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Rockwell B-1 Lancer

Next was a flyby by a B-1 Lancer. The B-1 is another aircraft with a rocky road to development.
The B-1 was first envisioned in the 1960's as a replacement to the B-52 Stratofortress. The intial B-1A was developed in the 1970's and 4 prototypes were developed. It was originally to be a high altitude bomber but that change and it became a low altitude penatrator.
With the defection of a MiG-25 in 1975, it was discovered that the Soviets had lookdown-shootdown capability in their radars. This meant that a low level penetrator would be vulnerable and the program was cancelled in 1977. However flight tests would continue.
With Reagan, the B-1 program was reinstated as the B-1B. There are some notable differences between the B-1A and the B-1B, the most noticable is the absense of a spine down the back of the plane. This gave the aircraft a much lower radar cross section.
Cost overruns meant that only 100 planes would be built. This meant that it would never quite replace the B-52 but supplement it.
During the 80's, it was mostly used as a nuclear bomber. This changed when it was converted to conventional use as well. It can carry more bombs than the B-52 (but still isn't as cool).

I do have to admit, it was pretty neat as this plane flew over. You could actually feel the ground rumble. I would hate to be on the business end of one of these.


Sagrilarus said...

I got the opportunity to sit in one of these at Wright Patterson. The B-1B was never the most effective weapon in the fleet, but by my measure even from an up-close perspective this is one of the most elegantly curved planes that's ever flown. Just beautiful to look at even with the parking brake on.


Mikoyan said...

I think it is a cool looking aircraft. If I remember correctly, it can carry more than a B-52 but it is not the most efficient aircraft in the fleet.