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State of the B-1 fleet hits all time low

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posted on Jun, 4 2019 @ 09:54 PM
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Word is going around that of 62 B-1s in the US inventory, no more than 9 are considered Fully Mission Capable. Crews are being routed to other aircraft because they can't all train on the B-1.

The Air Force is being given until March 1, 2020 to brief Congress on their plan to improve readiness rates of the aircraft. This includes dealing with structural issues, and being able to meet future deployment requirements.

www.airforcetimes.com...




posted on Jun, 4 2019 @ 10:26 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

Why would a capable element of our arsenal be made to seem inferior? I think I know the answer.






posted on Jun, 4 2019 @ 10:29 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58
Sounds like its time to pull the pin on the B-1 fleet. If they cant get more than 9 fully mission capable it makes you wonder if they would be better off scrapping the fleet, re-activating some more mothballed BUFF's and holding out till B-21 arrives. The money saved from running them could be used for the B-52 fleet and improve its reliability, and you would still most likely be ahead financially and operationally.



posted on Jun, 4 2019 @ 10:39 PM
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a reply to: Sabrechucker
Because it hasn't been made to look inferior. The B-1 has since day one been a maintenance and reliability pig of an aircraft. Its truly been a superstar in the hangar queen stakes. Go and add in high operational tempos in almost continuous combat operations and then see the core of the experienced maintenance personnel gutted in a short sighted attempt to save operating money and you have a horrible recipe for reliability. Its no surprise or conspiracy to divert money or priority to the B-21 if that's your thinking. More a sad reflection on operating something unreliable for too long on too little.



posted on Jun, 4 2019 @ 10:45 PM
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a reply to: Sabrechucker

As pointed out, the B-1 has been a joke from the word go. They compromised on the design so badly that it barely met any of the requirements it was originally designed for, and almost all of them were changed. For example, it was originally conceived as a Mach 2 bomber. That was later reduced to "supersonic". One of the things they did to reduce weight, and allow it to hit Mach 1.2 was to remove a generator, reducing the available electrical power. This meant that during phases of flight that were power intensive, they had to shut systems down to have enough power. We had four drop in with engine damage because they had to choose between deicing the inlets, or having navigation systems running.



posted on Jun, 4 2019 @ 10:46 PM
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a reply to: thebozeian

We used to list them on our board as FMC when they'd come through, and just about every time were told "There's no such thing as an FMC B-1".



posted on Jun, 4 2019 @ 11:17 PM
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originally posted by: thebozeian
a reply to: Sabrechucker
Because it hasn't been made to look inferior. The B-1 has since day one been a maintenance and reliability pig of an aircraft. Its truly been a superstar in the hangar queen stakes.


All true, but it was also the number one requested asset among commanders in Sandistan. Might still be. Generally represented 10% or fewer of the sorties and 30-60% of ordnance expended on targets in interdiction or direct support. Carries more, stays on station longer, and can dash to an engagement. Also has better data-integration and display for the mission with the IBS.

When the Harvest Hawk was doing it's initial trials, everyone was also surprised for similar reasons. Endurance on station is a huge operational bonus for the war we find ourselves fighting. A Bone, BUFF, or AC-130/Harvest Hawk can stay up and ride shotgun for entire patrols and have deep magazines. They end up being able to put much more ordinance on target and do not spend nearly as much time in transit as tacair, and tank far less.

So, something to ponder while debating the Stay-or-Go.



posted on Jun, 4 2019 @ 11:35 PM
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It's time to shelve it for more F-35s. That's the Air Force Way™.



posted on Jun, 4 2019 @ 11:42 PM
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a reply to: Masisoar

You'd save more in maintenance costs.



posted on Jun, 4 2019 @ 11:44 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58




For example, it was originally conceived as a Mach 2 bomber. That was later reduced to "supersonic"


I hate to bust your narrative, but...


B-1A did just fine on designed performance. Met or exceeded all goals, including speed.


The main factors for lower speed in the B-1B? Biggest is the redesign of the intakes which dramatically reduced the radar cross signature by well more than an order of magnitude (a very, very big deal for survivability). I can tell you the commonly given value is not correct.
Semi -related, it got a different engine optimized for greater efficiency at lower speed, which also ties in below..
Two, the decision was made that Mach 2+ speeds are rarely operationally justified. It takes too much gas, burns up hours on engines and airframes, adds weight and cooling difficulties, and is rarely ever used. Same reason most modern combat aircraft are limited below Mach 2.
Three, what was operationally relevant was a higher-end low-altitude speed and larger payload. Strengthening the airframe for low-altitude penetration brought them into high transonic speeds at sea level, and simultaneously more than doubled their useful payload. Optimizing engine performance for this regime made far more sense.

Maybe I can find my project coffee mug! It's in a box with other crap somewhere.

The hangar queen bit has always been sadly true. Several proposals were made that would have improved that, but the original plan was the Bone was just an interim type. First production aircraft was 84, it was going to be completely replaced by either 91 or 92. I don't remember which. The ATB was supposed to fly by 85 and be introduced to service by 1990. Bone and most BUFFs would be phased out as ATB production and delivery ramped up. USAF didn't want to spend the money on something with such a short service life (if we all only knew!)
edit on 4-6-2019 by RadioRobert because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 4 2019 @ 11:49 PM
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originally posted by: thebozeian
a reply to: Zaphod58
Sounds like its time to pull the pin on the B-1 fleet. If they cant get more than 9 fully mission capable it makes you wonder if they would be better off scrapping the fleet, re-activating some more mothballed BUFF's and holding out till B-21 arrives. The money saved from running them could be used for the B-52 fleet and improve its reliability, and you would still most likely be ahead financially and operationally.


That sounds good but...the mission ready status of almost all the aircraft barely runs above 50% in most cases from what I have read. Germany is really bad with there fighter aircraft.. If they can fly they do not even have the armaments for a load out.

It used to be the military could pride itself on mission accomplishment and readiness with their assets... the COs and core/division commanders were held accountable... They were removed if their readiness fell below some figure..

La May would be having people stand at attention on the tarmac as he chewed them a new one if this crap went on under his watch IMO.



posted on Jun, 4 2019 @ 11:56 PM
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a reply to: RadioRobert

I know the B-1A did just fine. In fact, if they had left the design alone, we probably wouldn't be in this position. But there weren't any A models that were operational, so that doesn't change the point. And how exactly was I wrong? The A was conceived as a Mach 2 aircraft. You just said that was reduced, which was the exact same thing that I said. They had issues during the redesign to the B, which led to compromises, which led to them being hangar queens.

The B-1 has always had the potential to be a great aircraft. But they made so many changes, and had to cut so many things during development that it turned into the piece of crap we all know and love.



posted on Jun, 5 2019 @ 12:02 AM
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a reply to: 727Sky

Considering the age of our fleet, the non stealth aircraft are doing quite well. In 2017, the last year we have data for, most of our non stealth fleet was in the high 60-70% range. Considering that they're mostly 30+ years old, that's pretty damn good.


edit on 6/5/2019 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 5 2019 @ 12:05 AM
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a reply to: RadioRobert
Yes Im aware of the utility and advantage of a big aircraft with endurance, dash speed and deep magazines, and when the Bone is working it does a good job. Thats why I argued for years they should have kept the F-111 for precisely that very reason and role rather than rely on "short legs and shallow pockets" F-16's instead. But the operative statement here is " when working well" and I'm afraid it fails to do that far too often. Ground commanders request it because when they see it turn up its been able to do a good job so naturally they will go with what they see works well from their point of view. Problem is they aren't really seeing the whole picture and downside of mission capability rates and maintenance headaches because its not their problem, and nor should they. I honestly think they should retire it, now. They only have two other options, soldier on and persevere with it and try and improve the mission capable rate (they have been trying that for years though with very mixed success), or spend big and put it through a major update, re-engine and system replacement program(expensive and very dubious benefit, akin to the F-15X debate). They missed the major upgrade and rebuild window by a good 7-10 years in my opinion (again like the F-15 debate). So that leaves them with keep burning cash and resources for a diminishing return, or cut your losses and try and find the ground commanders a substitute that will give them at least some if not the same capability. A mix of more BUFF's, Harvest Hawk (as you note) and loitering munitions/UCAV dispensers would go a long way to that, at least until B-21 or a new generation loitering bomb truck can arrive.



posted on Jun, 5 2019 @ 12:09 AM
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a reply to: thebozeian

They just put the fleet through a $3B upgrade that rebuilt everything from the brakes (500% improvement in effectiveness claimed) to new cockpit systems and communications. That was started the year after their mission capable rate hit 49%.



posted on Jun, 5 2019 @ 12:16 AM
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a reply to: Zaphod58
Yes but while that's welcomed, is it having a measurable effect yet or at all? Is the figure of 9 FMC aircraft taken from before or after the rework? If its before the $3bn outlay that's another story but if its after I would be concerned. Plus what do they need to substantially lift MC rates into the 60-70% range like the B-52 or AC-130's?



posted on Jun, 5 2019 @ 12:18 AM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: 727Sky

Considering the age of our fleet, the non stealth aircraft are doing quite well. In 2017, the last year we have data for, most of our non stealth fleet was in the high 60-70% range. Considering that they're mostly 30+ years old, that's pretty damn good.



Good to know the 2017 numbers were that high. I suppose bad news travels faster than good news sometime for the last numbers I saw on the F35 and the F-22 were not that good ...but... that was last year if I remember correctly. Let us hope improvement is in the works.



posted on Jun, 5 2019 @ 12:40 AM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

The A-model was far less capable. It was built for a mission that ceased to exist for decades.

I'm not going to shovel # with you. You clearly imply the B-1 had to have it's design goals reduced to meet performance.



As pointed out, the B-1 has been a joke from the word go. They compromised on the design so badly that it barely met any of the requirements it was originally designed for, and almost all of them were changed. For example, it was originally conceived as a Mach 2 bomber. That was later reduced to "supersonic". One of the things they did to reduce weight, and allow it to hit Mach 1.2 was to remove a generator, reducing the available electrical power. This meant that during phases of flight that were power intensive, they had to shut systems down to have enough power. We had four drop in with engine damage because they had to choose between deicing the inlets, or having navigation systems running.


Neither version of the Bone is weight limited in regards to speed. The Bone you know and love is limited by fixed intakes and engine/powerplant optimized for high-transonic flow. The shockwave cannot be repositioned to aid compression at high speed as it could on the A-model. That's 98%. You can take a fully loaded Bone right up past it's design speed until the shockwave goes down the intake. That's the limit.

The B-1B is far more capable than the A-model. Hardly anything was "cut" capability wise. A heavy escape capsule was cut because it wouldn't be flying at 55,000' at Mach 2+ anymore. Variable ramps went for survivability and optimized performance where it would actually be used. Payload and avionics and defensive systems all massively improved.

The A model was great at what it was designed for. Unfortunately what the customer wanted a more complex B-58 at that time, and the high-altitude regime was taken away from it by the air-defense/countermeasure pendulum swing at exactly the wrong time.



posted on Jun, 5 2019 @ 12:50 AM
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a reply to: thebozeian




They missed the major upgrade and rebuild window by a good 7-10 years in my opinion


I am not necessarily disagreeing; I haven't seen the specifics and the outlay. I feel the same way about reengining the BUFFS at ~$10B. Missed the window by 15-25 years for that to make sense, imo.

I'm just providing some extra context to "She's a hangar queen" , which is also still true beyond doubt. There's s reason she's in high-demand.



posted on Jun, 5 2019 @ 04:56 AM
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a reply to: RadioRobert


Long considered by its critics to be overweight at 477,000 pounds, the B- 1B also may be encountering stability problems.

First envisioned under the Nixon administration, the B-1 was to be a high altitude bomber. President Carter canceled the program in favor of waiting for Stealth and by the time the Reagan administration resurrected it as a low- level bomber, the B-1B had gained 80,000 pounds.



"It is grossly underpowered and grossly overweight," said Dr. Thomas Amlie, an Air Force systems analyst and frequent critic of the aircraft.



"There are a lot of things coming out now about the B-1 -- because of the weight problem, because of the change in the threat -- that indicate it will not have the capabilities we thought."

www.sun-sentinel.com...


Critics of the B-1`s design, including a small coterie of former Air Force officers, airplane designers and weapons engineers, have been arguing for years that the aircraft is too heavy, underpowered and inherently unstable for the extreme demands of long-range bombing missions.

www.chicagotribune.com...

Yes, the mission changed, and design changes reduced the top speed, etc. That doesn't change the multiple reports of weight issues, the systems that were redesigned to reduce as much weight as possible (such as removing the 4th generator).




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