B-1B Lancer Fleet To the Boneyard?

Back to the Title 10 side of the house for a moment; the Air Force Council meets today to consider further cuts in aircraft to meet aggressive savings targets laid out by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. One option on the table: early retirement of all 66 B-1B Lancer bombers (the last delivery of which came back in 1988).

Force structure cuts might also extend to the air arm’s much cherished but currently under-utilized fighter force. The service already plans to early retire 250 fighters this year, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said last month; gone are 112 F-15s, 134 F-162, and 3 A-10s.

Some of the fighter wings, mainly A-10, are being chopped altogether, while others are transitioning from legacy F-15s to upgraded F-15s or to the fifth-generation F-22 and other wings are prepping to receive the F-35 at some uncertain future date.

“By accepting some short-term risk, we can convert our inventory of legacy fighters and F-22 (Raptors) into a smaller, more flexible and lethal bridge to fifth-generation fighters like the F-35 (Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter),” Donley said.

While short-range tactical fighters (and potentially bombers) are being cut, the Air Force is adding more MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones and more analysts to scrutinize the massive amounts of imagery they generate.

— Greg Grant

  • Bob

    Sad to see these cuts, but the nation really cannot afford a first rate air force. Other spending has higher priority with our lawmakers.

    • Paula

      yes like vacations for our great president and family with friends in tow to Hawaii

    • Some of these cuts make sense while others seem idiotic! I would like to know just what they plan on replacing the A-10 with, God knows the troops need that kind of firepower CAS when things go bad.

      • Caleb

        yeah! whats going to happen to “go ugly early!?”

    • chris

      guess this country better get ready for a first rate attack by somebody else!!!!!

  • carlos

    How is it we cant afford this but we can afford a single payer option with Healthcare. Hurry 2012 and come so we can get this guy out of office.

    • Wombat

      yeah! why spend money on citizens at home when we can spend it on obsolete, unnecessary or unused weapons?! kick NObama out!

      • Yeah, we haven’t used a nuke in 65 years! Let’s get rid of them too! Oh wait, Obama already reduced them all to single warhead missiles, so they’re basically target practice for China’s missile defense systems.

        Problem solved!

        • DualityOfMan

          Actually the de-MIRVing START II treaty was signed by George HW Bush.

      • William C.

        Obsolete, unnecessary, and unused weapons? I really hate what you liberals are trying to do to our military and country. You know nothing of deterrence or force projection.

        Our government has a duty to maintain a strong military, not waste billions of a healthcare debacle.

  • eric

    look at it from the bright side, The Netherland don’t even have 250 planes to retire.

  • shon

    there is a typo. 134 F-162 should be 134 F-16

  • Chops

    I think we should cut Gates and Obama and keep the planes.

    • chris

      shoot i agree chops, are air force was before these ********!!!!!!!!!

  • Frank

    Seems major world problems keep creeping up and now the feds want to cut many of the most dependable aircraft form our inventory. What’s next????

    • Bob

      Given a choice between spending of bead and butter, or guns the average American citizen will choose bread on butter. The fact that everything the military gets costs too much also enters into it. $600 toilet seats etc.

      • Mike


        Please read before posting.

        What is bead and butter, or guns? Then you change it to bread on butter?


      • lightfighter

        The reason for the 600 dollar toilet seats is an issue that has been discussed over and over. The seats cost that much because they were made of a for a specific plane out of specific materials. When it came time to get no ones. They had to start the line up again. That costs a lot to do. You guys need to drop this 600 hundred dollar toilet seat thing.

        • IronV

          It’s about time; the $600 dollar hammer, toilet seat, coffee pot thing is a myth that will not die. The items are so low in production numbers, they have to be virtually handmade. There is no economy of scale. Jeez…

      • William C.

        Hopefully the “average American” isn’t so short-sighted and foolish as you take them to be.

        “Free healthcare” is simply a lie and the people who would put such a doomed initative before the military should not be the ones running this country.

        • Chops

          AMEN–Maybe the Idiot can go to China,Iran,and North Korea and apologize that our military is too strong and offer to give them the aircraft-weapons systems and ships that are being retired–he obviously treats our main antagonists better than our own military -THE A**HOLE.

  • chaos0xomega

    Cut A-10s? What the hell is wrong with the Air Force!? WE NEED THOSE NOW.

    • JEFF

      They some how believe they can be replaced by F-35s. Its part of that whole postering in anticipation of their “new born baby” when at best this will be a miscarriage.

    • Rick W

      The airforce has been trying to cut the A-10 since they got it. Actually, since before they actually received the planes.

      ‘Too dangerous to fly’ and ‘not an effective weapon system’ are the main reasons.

      (BTW: Those are the AF reasons, not mine.)

      • They’re too effective, it’s needs to have millions of “unforseen” problems for the air force to want it. cough F-35 cough

      • BILL D

        Ask the troops on the ground if they would rather have the A10 backing them up or a shiny new F35[not for another 5 years]flying circles at 30,000 ft. for support.I think even the uninitiated person such as myself can answer that.A10 without a doubt.

      • William C.

        Well back in the late 1980s some in the USAF wanted to cut the A-10 due to this line of thinking that it was too vulnerable due to a lack of speed. As a result the modernized A-7F Corsair II (capable of supersonic speeds) was proposed along with new versions of the F-16 to replace the A-10A.

        Since the Gulf War, the main reason has been the limited funds the USAF has to work with. Your typical USAF general would indeed rather spend money keeping F-15s in service than A-10s.

    • chaos0xomega

      Unfortunately I am all too well familiar with the A-10s standing with Air Force brass. It’s a shame too, the A-10 IS the sexiest airplane in the sky.

      As much as I’d like to commission into the Air Force, I sometimes wonder if I may be too smart for the job :P

  • Marvel

    While I love the B1B and hate to see any A-10s go, be realistic people…why do we need over 1,000 F-16s? True, we may be involved in a major war in the distant future, but for now the more important costs involve supporting the troops on the ground with airlift and close air support. We easily have enough aircraft to do that, even with some severe cuts. In a perfect world we could patrol every border and every ocean, but you have to ask yourself what we need for the next ten years.

    • Ronbo

      We don,t get advanced notice of when major wars will occur. When they do and we,re not ready it,s a real mess.

  • Maxtrue

    Maybe I’m missing something but with the advent of air launched hypersonics and missile defense weapons to be luached from the air as well as the suggested laser payload, why are we getting rid of the B-1?

    Did I read that Warthogs are being canned with the strange suggestion F-35s can take up the roll? Is that after the fire suppression systems have been removed? And did I read that drones will take up the slack?

    I am having trouble squaring all this with the idea we are building an Air Force of the future. Maybe someone with expert knowledge can show me why I should not have serious doubts. Anyone?

    • Hale

      Maybe it’s because we’ve got an air force that can take on 3 Soviet Unions at once, while Russia’s barely got their first sub-par 5-gen fighter off the ground and China’s still using crappy old migs.

      Oh yeah, also were’re fighting two wars with Islamist cavemen armed with IEDs and AKs.

      • Maxtrue

        That explains cutting the best ground support air craft? And what will drop those huge bunker busters, carry laser pods in their bomb bays, launch hypersonics, a new secret bomber? I rather doubt the B-2s (all 19 of them will do it). What has the range? Sure we have a great refueling capacity right now.

        Okay, I get it. We’re going to build a super X-37 and launch kinetic bombs from space. We’ll put up big mirrors and shoot lasers over the horizon. We don’t need bombers anymore. We’ll send Moabs via balloon..

    • Chops

      I am not an expert —but–a blind man could see it with a cane–you don't replace a top line bomber with a fighter that won't be in service for another 5 yrs. at least.———————————DUMP THOSE TWO IDIOTS –GATES AND OBAMA.

      • Chops


    • Caleb

      Yeah, I don’t see F-35’s totin’ 35 mm Avenger Anti-Armour Gatling guns.

      • Caleb


  • Wes

    Why retire the B-1 and not the B-52?

    • Clement

      Maybe it’s because they cost more per unit, cost more to maintain, and basically perform a mission that’s pretty much obsolete? Although B-52s are also pretty useless these days.

      • Mastro

        Are B-52’s easier to support? Is that why they are still hanging around?

    • Mike

      I’ve read before that the maintenance of the B-1 is costly, and takes more to maintain, not to mention the fact that the B-1 has the swing wing capability (gears, lube, etc.) whereas the B-52 doesn’t have that. The B-52 has also been used a lot lately in unconventional roles (IRST?, Waverider, etc.).

    • ohwilleke

      IIRC the B-52 dropped about half of the bombs by mass of all bombs dropped in the Iraq/Afghanistan era.

      I believe that there are also complications under treaties that allow B-52s but not B-1s to carry cruise missiles.

      The B-2 basically replaced the B-1’s mission as a stealthy first strike plane. The B-52’s dumb bombing mission hasn’t really been replaced by anything else.

      The other virtue of the B-52 is that it is the only non-jet bomber in the fleet. Jet planes are faster, but props can stay in the air without refueling longer.

      • Blight

        B52 is turbofan, not turboprop.

        • Jeff M

          Turbojet actually, turbofan is much larger.

          • bill Healey

            TF-33 engine. Props? really? Your in the wrong blog

      • Johns381

        B-52 and B-1 are both jet bombers….not sure where you got that the B-52 was a prop plane but it isn’t. Now the B-52 is not supersonic while the B-1 is.

      • praetorian

        Also there are only 19 B-2 bombers. I dont think thats enough to replace
        66 B-1’s. Right now the B-1 is the busiest bomber in the fleet.

      • /sea/

        I beleive the topic of discussion here is American aircraft like jet powered Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, not the Tupolev Tu-95 Bear

      • Dr. Steven Krause

        As a former B1B aviator with command experience, here’s the scoop. The B1 has more payload capability, is the fastest aircraft at low altitude (can reach more targest quickly), has the longest loiter time capability, has “select a weapon capabiility” while carrying the widest array of precision weapons, and carries the newest pod capable of tracking and guiding kills on both man-made and human targets. The B1 has been the workhorse in Iraq and Afganistan…not the B52. Although only carrying out less than 10% of combat sorties, the B1 has destroyed 43% of the targets. The B1B also employs stealth tecfhnology and unlike the stealth F117, it has never been shot down in combat. Now that is effectiveness! By the way, the B52 has never been a prop aircraft but has turbo fan jet engines.

        • bill Healey

          Good to know “command experience”, that was important

      • JMA

        the B-52 has 8 jet it is not a prop planes

      • John

        Dumbass, the B-52 has eight jet engines!

    • Ronbo

      Good Question. I love the B-52 but now it,s almost 50 years old and those poor old airframes are tired. The Air Force refuses to retire them but wants to scrap the more modern and versatile B-1. Am I missing something here?

    • bill Healey

      B1 cost more to maintain than a B-52. Plus the B-52 has a much higher rate of being ready and meeting mission numbers

  • Dean

    Why is it that the Air Force has the fanciest housing of all the branches? Everyone in the Air Force gets deluxe BOQ housing-even E-1s.
    When I was in the Navy the BOQ housing was pretty spartan, not luxurious like the Air Force-maybe we could save a little money here too.

    • Bob

      Air Force personnel must be given a higher standard of living to effective. Also, the higher living standard is a recruitment tool. In Germany, standard Army on base family housing, was considered sub-standard for AF families and they did not have to give up their full housing allowence. The AF is very civilized. The Army/Navy are more like the great unwashed.

      • Dean

        that’s explains everything-a typical Air Force person wouldn’t survive in the other services ;-D

        • chaos0xomega

          I was going to refute you, but then I noticed you said typical. Indeed true.

          I sometimes feel bad for the AFSOC community. They get a lot of crap for what the other 90% of the AF does.

        • SMSgt Mac

          And as the Son of a Sailor-Soldier-Airman, a 20 year Airman who spent 2.5 years in Navy quarters, and the Father of a Marine-Airman who is now contemplating a Soldier’s life, I say you are FOS. (except abou tthe great unwashed part) [;-D

  • CantBelieve

    I don’t understand the B-1 comments for a number of reasons: 1. the B-1 can carry more weapons than any other aircraft in Air Force inventory, B-52 included; 2. the B-1 has the lowest cost per weapon dropped of any aircraft because it can carry huge amounts of weapons and, unlike the extremely slow and bulky B-52, does not have to have a giant entourage of defender aircraft when it goes into battle to keep it out of harm’s way. Yes there’s some of that but nothing like the B-52’s needs. In addition, if they decide to cut this aircraft I think that they will owe the public an explanation on why they would do this after just spending a billion dollars to upgrade various capabilities of that platform. Finally, I just don’t understand the logic behind this when the B-1 has been used to such great effect in wars ranging from Kosovo to Afghanistan… if I remember my statistics correctly in the former they made up only 8% of the aircraft that participated in that war yet dropped over 46% of total weapons tonnage during the war. That is a massive capability that we would be remiss to give up. But not only that… how would this be a good economic decision? Just by economies of scale and the number of bombs the sucker can crank out that makes the B-1 the most economical platform. Do you really want to spend $200 million on a new fighter than can drop 2, maybe 4 JDAMs when you have an aircraft that, depending on weapons configuration, could drop 80+ in one swoop?

    • Wombat

      I think the AF is trying to move away from the large bombers and move toward small strike aircraft that have low RCS and are thus more survivable. Large bombers are now just bomb trucks that loiter above an area for long streches of time and drop an occasional smart bomb if it is called for. In general a strike fighter is better for that role since they have a shorter time-to-target. Furthermore, the B-1 costs more to maintain and service than a B-52, since there are 66 B-1s and a few hundred B-52s, so there is an economy of scale. Last point, the current fly-away-cost for the F-35 is about $40 million per plane, according LockMart, but fly away cost doesn’t include development costs so depends on how you swing it.

      • praetorian

        I think they raised the fly away cost of the F-35 ??? I thought it was over
        $100 million now but thats with development costs added in.

  • Tony C

    The B1-B is a bomber without a mission, so it has to go. The older fighters are beyond economical upgrades and the F-35 is eating up the budget faster than a hog on slop. The US marines are under threat of disbanding and the US Navy can’t afford to build enough ships to replace the ones to be decommissioned. The Chicoms must be loving the situation our current administration has created!!!

    • CantBelieve

      Good luck getting an aircraft carrier within 1000 miles of several of this world’s military hot spots. For those missions, that is exactly why you need a global strike vehicle like the bomber fleet.

    • praetorian

      The DoD spent alot of money putting sniper pods on B1-B’s so i think they do have a mission.

      • Clement

        really? what is it that a B-1 Lancer can do with a sniper pod that an F-15E or F-16 can’t? The B-1 was developed as a supersonic strategic nuclear strike bomber, designed to dash in and deliver quickly and get back out. Guess what, the cold war is OVER. At most, maybe for prudence’s sake we should keep 5 or 10 of them. There is no reason we need sixty of these things.

        • William C.

          Don’t be foolish, a F-15E or F-16 can’t loiter over a target for hours or strike targets at very long ranges. They don’t carry nearly the payload as the B-1B, saying the Cold War is OVER justifies NOTHING. You want to retire the B-1B, you pay up for a new bomber!

    • Impatient_w/idiots

      What leads you to conclude this is the fault of the current administration?

  • CantBelieve

    Actually you are incorrect. Although 700+ B-52s were built over the years, only 102 H-models were ever built and that is all the Air Force is currently using. Of those 102, FAS.org reports that 85 are active today (with 44 being combat-coded). I think it is hard to argue that 66 B-1s vs. 85 B-52s is a tremendous savings. Speaking of low RCS, one of the primary reasons that the B-52 is less costly to maintain is because it looks like a big flying barn on radar. The B-1 was one of the first RCS aircraft our country developed, and that along with its supersonic and low flight capabilities does make it a bit more expensive. So there is some added expense there yes but the result is greater survivability and a more diverse mission role. Also I’m not sure how a fighter vs. a supersonic bomber has a shorter time to target when we are talking about both loitering over an airspace for x amount of time and then attacking that target. If anything the bomber is going to be able to stay up in the air longer since there is room for rotating shifts and a lot more fuel reserve capability. Finally, the $40 million is a favorable number that Lockheed has come up with based on assumptions that they have made on the number of aircraft they will eventually sell, which has yet to be seen.

    • praetorian

      I agree. In this war there are no hard targets. the targets pop up where ever
      and on short notice. Seems to me the AF would want something that can
      loiter over the battlefield for an extended period of time. And i do believe the F-35 will end up costing more then the F-22 per copy

      • MCQknight

        Right. And another ting to consider is that we shouldn’t be retiring platforms that have decades of useful service life left in them because of requirements of a current, low end conflict that will most likely not last nearly as long as the bombers remain relevant.

        Addidtionally, if you replace the role of long-range strategic bombers with short-range fighters, then you lost the ability to strike distant targets without a forward operating base. In order to strike a long range target with an F-22 or F-35, you’re going to need many many flights from slow, subsonic, non-stealthy tanker aircraft, while a B-1 would require only a few, if any, refueling flights.

    • enthusiast


      • Chops

        Listed as mach1.2

  • Greg

    Okay the article just says one option. Why are we acting like this is proof in fact? I mean damn why are the posts always so extreme. Anytime there is a post about anything there goes the Obama talk. Just like when Bush was in office the same deal. Look the president is not responsible for all of our problems. Heck he wasn’t even in office when the recession started. Some posters are right, Do we need to be able to hit every country on the planet at the same time. Our technology so far past the rest of the worlds. Russia only has 16 of the equivalent tu-160. China is using old Russian bombers from the 50’s. Honestly We have the only real bomber force. You guys talk about the size of the b-52 on radar, what do you think the tu-95 is with its propellers moving and all? And yes we do need a medium strike aircraft similar to the tu-22 for these missions that would be cheaper to maintain, remember our f-111 that was never replaced?

    I don’t want to see the bone go either, but we can’t keep it all for ever. World War II ended 60 years ago going on 70. After every war there is always a military cut, its just what happens so the economy can right itself. If you spent less time worrying about what you think Obama was doing, and more time making your life right you may be happier people, because you seem bitter and a little bigoted even though you haven’t called it out. The rational most of the extreme use makes no sense to the center slightly right, or left. Grow up.

    • Maxtrue

      It the cheapest way to blow things up are missiles and bombs then it makes no sense to cut Raptors and Bombers like the B-1. Does anyone really think the F-35 will pack a laser anytime soon? So objections here aren’t because some dislike Obama. They question the many lines given as to why things are done. Where is the strategic plan? You need things like B-1s and Raptors to deliver bombs, missiles and MDS weapons. Its not like we’re making more advanced versions. F-35s are not really ground support. Raptors penetrate the best and can deliver weapons others can’t. Same is true for the B-1. People are questioning the logic. I think it unfair to say criticism is directed solely at Gates or Obama. The problem is actions and strategies put forward by the administration seem counter-intuitive. At least to a layman like myself. I’m asking questions, not making judgments….

    • praetorian

      I disagree with your comment

      And yes we do need a medium strike aircraft similar to the tu-22 for these missions that would be cheaper to maintain, remember our f-111 that was never replaced?

      The F-15E was considered the replacement of the F-111

  • Dean

    The whole concept of a heavy bomber is hopelessly outdated. There is no heavy bomber in existence that can penetrate a modern defense net-not even the B-2 Stealth bomber. Any heavy bomber that is going to attack a modern country is going to go with with massive fighter and EW support (which the Air Force does not have), then the enemy will ‘see’ that they are coming hundreds of miles away and they’ll meet them with hundreds of missiles and fighters.

    • praetorian

      Why woundnt the airforce have the navy help with thier new EA-18G Growlers ??

      • Dean

        They do now, but that will all change during a major war since there are not enough Prowlers and Growlers for both services.

        • chaos0xomega

          What the Air Force SHOULD do is to buy itself a fleet of Growlers. They like to talk about sticking jamming pods on B-52’s, etc, but those aren’t anywhere near ready last I heard….

    • angry american

      you are full of it dean and you have no idea what those bombers are capable of
      if we get rid of obama soon enough we will still have the best military on earth.
      but if we dont get rid of those clowns that are hell bent on destroying america from the inside out we are in serious trouble!
      so you democrat dopers lay off the weed and lsd and pay attention god dammit you are destroying this country

    • bill

      Jimbo Lee, The Bombers in use do not nee to fly over the target. They do not need (for all weapons) to penetrate a modern air defense. Their weapons would be launched from a distance beyond their air defenses.

  • Jimbo Lee

    Give all those condemned military planes to His chosen G-d’s people, Israel!

  • John Coles

    I love dis plane lets suck all the money out of public schools buy loads and just teach kids to drive planes. the bomb accuracy of this bomber outbombs any other type of bomber and the wings are really nice and thin then the fine crafting of the inner plangie workings of this bomber really is worth the price Why does the gun and plane budget be cut how about not putting so much money into silly things like health and concentrate on the important thgings like bombers guns planes etc this is a dire crisis an abomination in my expert opinion

    • TJRedNeck

      Are you drunk?

      • guest

        Hostile. The misspelling is supposed to be mocking. These Political Action people are all over YouTube attacking anybody that opposes the Coming One World planned Government. They want Police State simple weapons. Nothing that could oppose China.

  • Ted Washington

    Good post Greg.

    Cuts are coming big time. You know it, they know it, vegetable lasagna knows it (Seinfeld reference.) Where would the cuts come from if not from older less capable aircraft like some F-15, F-16 and B-1’s? All branches will be affected. The existance of the Marine Corp is on the line. Rather than whine about what cuts are proposed (trial balloon) why not suggest cuts that you support to get to the same end result.

    Because big cuts are coming because the deficit hawks are circling – Blue Dogs and Repubs. Deficit hawks gotta eat in an election year.

    • sferrin

      I propose we cut the Obamacare monstrosity and “too big to fail” bailouts. There’s your savings.

  • sferrin

    Ted Washington: I propose we cut the Obamacare monstrosity and “too big to fail” bailouts. There’s your savings.

    • bobbymike

      Superpowers commit suicide they are rarely externally defeated. Obama has put the US’s head in the oven, slowly reaching to turn on the gas.

      The federal budget is $4 trillion with around $535 billion for defense. I would propose that any saving from the drawdown of troops in Iraq go to the DOD. With war funding the US is spending about $730 billion I would keep this level of spending regardless of the war funding component. While we are at it repeal Obamacare.

  • SMSgt Mac

    Gee Greg,
    I come home after another hard day building the dangdest-bestest and user-friendly weapons of unimaginable lethality that ever flew the wild blue and find this thread…. Man! – I hate it when the kiddies are on Summer vacation. You just gotta start putting the childproof locks on the comments, or you’re going to lose your readership. Well, the readership that has an income anyway.
    And since it (obviously) hasn’t been stated in a while…
    Always remember: Fighters make noise and kill things… Bombers make Policy and Change Governments!

    • Maxtrue

      Well you sure as hell weren’t working on a B-1 or Warthog. F-35? Maybe you can shed light on the stupidity of bombers and help explain what will replace there need…

      You know I’m listening as I always do….

      • Maxtrue

        their need….I hate typos.

  • Dirty Dan

    Cut the BONE! Good ol’ Rummy said it and now our pal Gates is banging that same drum. We don’t need a Global Strike capability any more now that our Dear Leader is the Global President. Why can’t we just retro fit the BONES into UAV’s ala Dale Brown’s Battle Born and retire the BUFF’s instead?

  • Winston

    Obama gutting the US military profoundly… Shame on COMMIE Obama

    • TMB

      Very insightful Winston. Of course you do realize these cuts are being proposed and enacted by the same SecDef as the previous administration, and that the Air Force has been planning cuts like this for years.

    • Interesting recent article by Richard Aboulafia
      ( http://www.richardaboulafia.com/shownote.asp?id=3… )
      Saying amongst other things:

      5. Heavy defense spending. A few wingnuts decry “Obama’s defense cuts,” but the FY 2011 budget is bigger than any we had under George W. Bush. A $140 billion procurement budget is as good as it gets.

  • Dirk

    I work with the BONE every day, and not a lower level, we’ve heard nothing to support cutting all 66 jets at all, as a matter of fact, $$$ are being spent to reduce time in depot maintenance and push them out faster to the fleet. I could see a reduction in numbers, from 66 to 35-55 or whatever, but not to go all the way to zero.

    • Maxtrue

      Dirk, would you say it is a good platform for some of new weapon concepts that require long range, speed, altitude and heavy load lifting? Hypersonic bunker busters, MDS weapons, laser pods. wasn’t there some talk about using the B-1 for those missions making them more a component in coming strategy? Just asking….

  • TMB

    During the initial invasion into Iraq in 2003, 11 B-1s, 4 B-2s, 12 F-117s, and 28 B-52s were deployed. The F-117s have all since been retired (50 something aircraft). OIF required 1/5th the B-1 force and half the B-52 force. No aircraft fleet is 100% mission capable so you’ll never see the entire fleet in the air at once. It seems dangerous to reduce those numbers if we’re serious about maintaining a full-scale war level of bombers, especially since the long-range bomber replacement program keeps getting pushed off the calendar.

  • I see people pst stuff like, “why do we need 1000 f-16 to fight curren war”. well we dont, so my suggestion is dont deploy what we dont need, but dont scrap them either. Everything gates and obama is doing is killing our defense/offense capability. I could see scrapping the B1 if they were trying to make room for the F22B, but we all know that not gonna happen. Anyways, someone fill me in on the possibilty that the marines are gonna be disband? Havent heard this. SOMEONE FILL ME IN

    • praetorian

      The F-22B would not be a replacement for the B1-B. it would be a replacement of the

      • William C.

        Do you mean the FB-22 proposed by Lockheed? The F-22B was originally the designation for a planned two-seat variant of the F-22A.

        Personally I favor the FB-23 over the FB-22 simply because I feel that Lockheed has enough on their plate with the F-35 at the moment.

  • So?

    Nothing is too precicous to sacrafice on the altar of F-35.

  • superraptor

    Retiring the B-1b fleet is complete strategic foolishness by an air force leadership obsessed with tactical air power. In fact, the B-1 fleet should be expanded by adding new B-1Rs. Equipped with JASSM-ERs these planes project unprecented forward firepower and are very hard to defeat. They would not need forward airbases and have less need for air-to-air refueling. They could immediately be employed in distant conflicts. It is really time to recognize the limits of tactical strike aircrafts. With an expanded B-1 fleet we would not need air bases in South Korea and Japan, would not need that many JSFs and tanker planes and also could eliminate aircraft carrier battle groups. Look how much personnel you need to operate an aircraft carrier battle group versus a squadron of B-1bs. The cost savings would be huge. There is no way we could defeat an enemy such as Iran without strategic air power.

  • William C.

    This is just sickening. Until we get a new bomber rolling off the production line, the 65+ B-1Bs in service are a major part of our strategic bomber fleet. They are greater than number than the B-2A, more survivable and faster than the B-52H, and have been upgraded with systems to allow delievery of the latest precision guided weapons like JDAM, JSOW, JASSM, and so forth.

    Gates has done little good for the USAF during his career, and Obama and the rest of the Democrats don’t know the difference between a B-1B and one of those private jets moving Nancy Pelosi around on taxpayer money!

    And the A-10? The soldiers on the ground love that thing. We should upgrade as many A-10As to the modernized A-10C standard as possible and keep that flying tank in service for at least another decade.

  • Bob

    Mr. Obama thinks that the U.S. is to powerfull and a world bully. He is going to solve that problem by gutting military spending and using the money to expand social progress. Congress, the media, the unions and academia all support his plans. The American people must support those plans. They elected Mr. Obama by a significant majority and they keep returning the same democrats to congress. They buy newspapers and listen to NBC, ABC CNN et al on their TVs. They spend big bucks to send their children to be educated by socialist professors. We nave no room to complain. We brought this upon ourselves.

    • chaos0xomega

      Dunno about you Bob, but I voted for the other guy…

  • Maxtrue

    Again, as a layman, I see several posts here that specifically identify the reasonable advocacy for the B-1 (and also the Warthog and F-22b). To the “experts” that say this is foolish, will you specifically address the claims brought up? You know which posts they are and until reasonable objections are offered here, it appears a much stronger case FOR the B-1 has been made.

    The context we are talking about includes present problems with basing and refueling, the cost of carrier groups, the likely need for speed and the ability to carry larger payloads associated with new generation munitions, defensive systems and advanced technology such as hypersonics and lasers.

    Defense Tech often paints a picture of the future threats and there seems a real disconnect between what this future implies for our needed capability and the decisions being made. N one seems to be saying there mustn’t be cuts somewhere, but again, the case must be made in terms of strategic vision. For example, if you’re going to cut the number of carriers and delay refueling and close distant bases, why take away a capability that overcomes such cost-cutting moves? If you’re going to come up with new bunker-blasters (quite possibly equipping them with boosters for hypersonic capability) that may have to delivery quickly, why take away the capability? If the jet that spots the enemy first and fires the best missile wins, why stop F-22bs, instead of building them and improving their radar? What “expert” says the F-35 is any match for an F-22 or even a Pak-Fa? Isn’t it important to make the case in a way that citizens can understand so the anti-administration narrative isn’t amplified?

    Right now the moves seem counter-intuitive no matter the constraints on the budget…..domestic programs and present reforms bleed billions every month and right now America is the only nation really hold the world’s crap together.

    Sorry for the number of posts on this issue…..I just haven’t read any real answers to my questions yet…

  • mike

    History is about to repeat itself again in a bad way! How many Raptors do we have? 186 I think? The F-35 is not realistically going to be operational until 2014 or later, and we want to further slice our combat capability?!? The military is already in the hurt locker from 9 years of sustained combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and continuing to make these cuts is only going to hurt the military… not help it.

  • Maxtrue
  • StevenDDeacon

    Cuts of F-22's, discontinuing the B1B, depending on very old B-52's, possible cuts of the F-35's, discontinuing the United States Marine Corp, and what only knows what kind of hacking of the U.S. Navy, Army, & Coast Guard. The states better start forming divisions of State Defense Forces to defend the Country because it looks like it's all were going to have left after our enemies whip our wimpy military.

  • Jeff M

    The B1 is surprisingly expensive to maintain, I have no idea why it’s so expensive, I think it was just made out of exotic parts and materials for it’s day and it has since become a bit outdated, it’s lost it’s luster. It’s a neat jet but contrary to other opinions here it is pretty easy to destroy. It’s capability was to fly low among the mountains and rooftops but that is not such an extraordinary capability, and it’s a lousy way of protecting an aircraft with surveillance satellites and what not. You all just have to accept that the US buys a new family wagon every now and then, you can’t fly the same one forever. Our current forces are a reflection of our economy, we’ll scale down a little but not a whole lot, we’ll still have a more capable military than the rest of the world combined.

  • paula

    Why doesn’t Obama leave the military to people who know what the hell they are doing and start taking care of the oil spill. Wait he does not know what to do there either!!!

  • Benjamin

    From what I have read is that area that controls the swing wings are maintenance intensive and may eventually need to be replaced which would be expensive.

    I actually think it would be smart to upgrade the planes vice get rid of them. THe reason for this is that the frame was designed for Mach 2 and if an improved engine is put in the plane could obtain a decent supercruise capability which would be good if we have troops in immediate need of aid but are to far away for tactical aircraft. The RCS could also be reduced but not to the RCS of the B-2. This reduction in RCS will still help insure survival.

    In the end it is all about money

  • Maxtrue
  • Kris

    As somemody who works the BONES, it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. They want to keep these pigs flying for years. The current challenge to to double Ops capacity. Really, who’s going to kill a bird that dropped more AOR muns in 2008 than all other airframes combined? I have a love-hate relationship with it but I feel secure in my job.

  • StevenDDeacon

    I know this is ancient history for most of you. The B-52 was actually designed as a high-altitude bomber for nuclear strikes. However, when the Soviet Union developed SAM missiles to knock out U-2 spy planes at 70K feet the tactics of the B-52 had to change to flying nap of the earth to get to target, which is what it was not designed for. The B1B Lancer was specifically designed to fly knap of the earth with its variable swept wing, (as found on the F117 and F14), and ground tracking avionics then bug out after delivering its nuclear payload. The B-52 is still a great high-altitude bomber and the B1B complements it by being able to perform both missions exceedingly well. With the B-2 and F111 stealth bombers and with air superiority achieved by our F-22, F15, F16, FA-18, and soon the F-35 fighters, plus surface to air and air to air missile countermeasure technology … we are assured of deploying all of our large bomber models by their respective tactical strengths. Remember that today we have very good stand off missile technology we can also deploy from our bombers. If anyone has any doubts about the A-10 I suggest they look at its kill rate during Desert Storm and the Gulf War.

    • Maxtrue


      Deacon, given the range of abilities of the B-1, could modifications allow new mission profiles (with novel flight profiles) that new larger munitions and weapons not drone ready could be applied? Or is stealth, increased thrust, tail modification, bay modifications, avionics not something the air frame and wing design will permit? If yes, what is the big deal turning an asset into better asset? I was under the illusion that smart modifications ARE smart. F-18 and F-15 can be made into better products as the inexpensive A-10 has also shown. The F-111 after a series of modification is no longer in service. For the near term, what platform besides the B-1 (should it be further modified) could fill the required role to deliver with reasonable stealth and super-cruise, larger cruise missiles, drones, hypersonics and kinetic/energy weapons? The B-52 can do a limited slice of this. There are not many B-2s. Cut the number of B-1s down to fifty or so and you have parts and labor presently existing. I though jobs are good for the economy. Reduce and modernize seems a sound alternative to reduce with no obvious successor in sight.

      I thought the topic was a possible cut of the B-1 program. And your answer didn’t mention the numbers you think are minimum numbers necessary for the missions imaged.

      • I believe you misunderstood my comment. I believe that both the B-52 and B1B bombers should be kept in our arsenal. I also believe both bombers are still capable of being upgraded with new avionics and ordinance. The B1B is the newer bomber air frame and capable of more extensive changes. I believe there is a discussion of a upgraded B-1R below. A bomber with the B-1R fight characteristics would complement our strike fighters. I would keep as many of the B1B’s as possible and retain enough B-52’s to supplement the B1B’s. New advanced avionics and ordinance are getting smaller with greater precision, as well as, stand off capability. I believe this to be a bigger plus for the B1B’s even though it would extend the life of our B-52’s as well.

    • Bill

      you have the F-111 mixed upwith the F-117

      • StevenDDeacon

        My bad. I did mean the F-111 Aardvark swept wing instead of the F-117. I also met the F-117 stealth aircraft with the B-2 bomber when I made my original comment.

  • Bill

    i don’t think they get destroyed , they’ll get wrapped up in a config. that can ,in a reasonable time ,be returned back to flight if need be. That is what they did with the F-117s. actually a smart move , leave them set hang out with no money being spent , then when we need them pull them off the shelf and let the chinese wonder what the hell just bombed them, having spent 10 years training to shoot down drones and what not, everything but bones :-)

  • Maxtrue


    The B-1R is a proposed replacement for the B-1B fleet.[57] Boeing’s director of global strike integration, Rich Parke, was first quoted about the “B-1R” bomber in Air Force Magazine.[58] Parke said the B-1R (R for “regional”) would be a Lancer with advanced radars, air-to-air missiles, and Pratt & Whitney F119 engines (originally developed for the F-22 Raptor).[58] Its new top speed of Mach 2.2 would be purchased at the price of a 20% reduction of the B-1B’s range.[58] This proposal would involve modifying existing aircraft. The FB-22 and YF-23-based designs are alternative proposals.[58]

    Boeing’s proposal appears to modify the B-1B into a design able to serve these two purposes. For the bomb-truck role Boeing proposes the modification of existing external hardpoints to allow them to carry multiple conventional warheads, dramatically improving overall warload. For the air-to-air role, both defensive and offensive, they propose to add active electronically-scanned array radar and allow some of the hardpoints to carry air-to-air missiles. Even with its somewhat reduced range as compared to the original B-1B, its fuel capacity remains quite large. This would allow it to escape from unfavorable air-to-air encounters by simply running away; there are few enough aircraft capable of Mach 2+ performance in general, and those that are deployed can maintain these speeds for only very short periods of time” Wiki

    4 F-110 engines would give you 120,000 lbs of thrust. Some stealth coatings, tail redesign and you’ve got something that can lift big things, run from fire and cover some distance…….

    Its going to take some time for a drone to do anything like this….

  • WeaselM1A

    They better start thinking about some bennies, layoffs, and pay cuts if they expect us to continue to have a first rate military, if not we will got the way of the old Soviet Union. Sounds tough but tough time call for drastic measures.

  • davec.0121

    I’ve noticed several comments about the Marines. Other than sentiment and very good PR, why DO we actually need the Marines as a separate branch?


    Either way, When you cut item’s from the overall force, Then all you do is make problems later on down the road. Cutting those weapon system’s is wrong. The only way this nation can stand up against those is in having a strong fighting force. Cutting is so wrong.

  • Retired Engine Mech

    There are too many people on drugs, here. War with Korea or China will chew up our shrinking, aging fighter force in short order. It takes YEARS to gear up to produce a modern warplane. What you have when the war starts is it. Ford, GM, and Chrysler aren’t going to be able to quickly switch to weapons as they did in WW2. Our current fearless leader is setting us up for a BIG defeat. He wants to waste TRILLIONS of $$ on worthless programs, while leaving our military impotent, and our borders open for terrorists to sneek in and nuke us.

  • dave

    remember what this administration said” we cant afford this many b-1 bombers and must make defense cuts” when the usa is burning and being infvaded by iranians and chinese. give the us military espically the air force a blank check. **** the health care issues, cause the miltary strength is the most important, besides what good is universal health care when were all dead!



  • TJRedNeck

    Get rid of the B-52s althogether, reduce the B-2s and start build a $h!tload of B-1Rs! Modernize and update the F-22s then produce more of them, scale back on the worhtless F-35s, move forward on 6th Gen aircraft. How do we pay for this you ask? That’s easy! Quit defending the rest of the world, Europe especially! Get rid of this socialist Nanny state crap! Quit taxing the hell out of our industries to where they either move out or fold, so that we can bring back our industrial might. No, it’s not cheap labor that they are leaving for, it’s the FACT that our idiotic politicians (both sides) tax and regulate the hell out of them, making this a very unbusinessfriendly place. The only businesses that are left are the ones that are extremely corrupt and have bought off the politicians.

  • Ronbo

    The sad part is we pat ourselves on the back for saving a few bucks while our enemies in the world are arming and preparing to fight us.

  • jhm

    Cuts!!! We need those A10s and f16s. Just cut teh politician salaries for petes sake. Sure, cut down on fighters when countries like Russia, china and iran are building more. Control of the air is everything, once our precious fighters are scaled down in numbers what next?
    THe f35 wont be around for a couple years and they already are cutting down legacy fighters, how smart. Maybe they will launch reapers and predators at su30s, Ha!!!

  • Fred

    Obama is increasing the military budget even higher than Bush. It is the Generals who insist on fewer aircraft so they can be so expensive super duper.

    Retire the B-2s instead.

  • Gary

    The current administration didn’t create the problem of the national debt rising out of control, which is the reason we need to find significant cuts today. The problem started in the 1982 with Reagan buildup, extending through the Bush term, building many of the most expensive systems while lowering taxes. These include 15 of our 18 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, 7 of our 10 Nimitz-class carriers, the B-1B and the B-2, and of course, SDI research.

    The current administration also did not start the expensive and unnecessary war in Iraq, but has disengaged from combat on the schedule set at the start of the term.

    The national debt is a serious problem which must be brought under control.

  • jf8685

    All of the above mentioned aircraft are rapidly running out of their usable lifetime of flight hours.
    The f-15 fleet dates back to the late 70’s along with the f-16’s and a-10’s. I am not privvy to the service life of different aircraft. They all did not arrive at different bases at the same time. They were all delivered in different production blocks. Some of the later delivered aircraft were the F-15E models during the late eighties early 90’s.
    Some of the C 141 fleet were retired with over 40,000 flight hours.
    Another war horse rapidly running out of service life is the Black hawk helicopter fleet that is working with all of the services.
    The newer F-22 fleets that are deployed around our country in Alaska,Hawaii and at Langley are flat out expensive to fly and maintain. They typically have no advesary flying anywhere in the world. We also have a F35 program in three different versions that is about four years overdue dliveries to the Marines to replace the Harrier.
    The “A” model is going to the USAF the “B”model to the Marine Corps. and the “C’ model to the Navy. It first was known as the Joint Strike Fighter.
    Another question is with the world as it now is,what is it that we really need for National Security? Who is are biggest threat?
    We have an Air Force that could strike anywhere in the world. We have 10 Aircraft Carriers roaming the world oceans from time to time and not all at once.
    We have a nuclear Submarine force roaming the oceans armed to the teeth a Coast Guard to guard our shores. Lets not forget the US Army that can be deployed globally if needed.
    The biggest threat I see in the near future is not from the middle east but from CHINA.
    Then there is also an immigration issue of 14 to 20,000,000 people in our country that do not belong here. With that large number it could actually be considered an invasion.
    Enough for now.

  • Bel

    B good if they could float like a seamaster, dive like a heron, climb like a x15sr71on an atlas4, couple of minotaur, could fly a long way, a viper 8 ld range would be good. Like the shuttle hey, lot of skilled workers, peaceful times call for peaceful measures. A lunar directorate, like Antarctica or the iss is needed for the moon and mars, some people love the puddle.