June 2, 1989: B-ONE Testing Complete

  • Published
  • Air Force Flight Test Center

The B-1B Lancer Combined Test Force completed the bomber’s development, testing and evaluation (DT&E) program after 592 test flights totaling 3,015 flying hours, utilizing a total of nine different aircraft. The DT&E program began in March 1983.

The Rockwell B-1 Lancer is a supersonic variable-sweep wing, heavy bomber used by the United States Air Force (USAF). It is commonly nicknamed the "Bone" (from "B-One").It is one of three strategic bombers in the USAF fleet as of 2020, the other two being the B-2 Spirit and the B-52 Stratofortress.

USAF officials envisioned the bomber in the 1960s as a platform that would combine the Mach 2 speed of the B-58 Hustler with the range and payload of the B-52, The bomber was meant to replace both bombers.  After a long series of studies, Rockwell International (now part of Boeing) won the design contest for what emerged as the B-1A. This version had a top speed of Mach 2.2 at high altitude and the capability of flying for long distances at Mach 0.85 at very low altitudes. The combination of the high cost of the aircraft, the introduction of the AGM-86 cruise missile and early work on the stealth bomber all significantly affected the need for the Lancer

The program was restarted in 1981, largely as an interim measure due to delays in the B-2 stealth bomber program, with the B-2 eventually reaching initial operational capability in 1997. This led to a redesign as the B-1B, which differed from the B-1A by having a lower top speed at high altitude of Mach 1.25, but improved low-altitude performance of Mach 0.96. The electronics were also extensively improved during the redesign, and the airframe was improved to allow takeoff with the maximum possible fuel and weapons load. 

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