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Bone Joins the Fray

The B-1 bomber, that Carter-era relic originally designed to fly low and fast to evade Soviet air defenses, has added itself to the ever-growing laundry list of platforms used in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn.

Rapid City Journal (hometown paper for Ellsworth AFB, where your humble scribe has stopped to gas-up Tomcats (that Nixon-era relic) a bunch of times) reports:

The wheels of two B-1B Lancers hit the Ellsworth Air Force Base runway Wednesday morning bringing home eight airmen from an airstrike mission in Libya.

“We, of course, were striking military targets that were designed to protect the Libyan population,” said Col. Jeffrey Taliaferro, 28th Bomb Wing Commander. “It was nearly 100 targets, nearly 100 weapons and those weapons did achieve their intended effects.”

Two jets, 100 bombs, and beaucoup flight hours for those blue suiters.  What else are they gonna do?  Let the B-2 boys have all the fun?

(Gouge — PC)


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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

blight March 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm

I guess since Iraq didn't use up our large stockpiles of bombs we figured we might as well dump them on Libya.

What with the military drawdown and all, it'd be cheaper to dump bombs on people than to disarm them and recycle them, or dispose them in large piles like so much UXO.


Brian Black April 1, 2011 at 5:54 am

I heard about 4 or 5 years ago that a huge stockpile of Vietnam era bombs was still being slowly recycled.


blight April 1, 2011 at 10:58 am

Which is why you need to sell your bombs, use them in practice or dump them on people.


Observer March 31, 2011 at 3:23 pm

bomb them back to the stone age…wait, most of them are still there, Doh!


STemplar March 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm

The article also says the targets were across Libya, not one location. Interesting, the number of weapons discussed. I would assume SDBs depending on what the definition of "nearly 100 weapons" means.


sw614 March 31, 2011 at 5:03 pm

B-1s can carry 84 Mk 82s internally, so I do not think they used SDBs. If they used 1,000 or 2,000 lb JDAMs than number would be loewr, but 2 B-1s are more than capable of acrrying "near 100" weapons between them.


MCQknight March 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm

I think the only manned shooters that the Air Force hasn't deployed to Libya are the B-52 and F-22. Wow.

So now the list of aircraft that have released ordinance in Libya (including Libyan AF assets) include:

Super Entendard
Tornado GR4
Mirage F1
Galeb G-2

I'm probably missing a few too…


elportonative77 March 31, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Typhoon too I think.


MCQknight April 1, 2011 at 9:20 pm

I'm not sure if they've fired any shots in anger. I've heard thus far they've only flown in air-to-air configuration.


bigRick March 31, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Why do I get a distinct feeling that "stars" running this show really love getting all of this "real world" practice time? ;-}


Robert March 31, 2011 at 9:44 pm

I should go get a cesna and a hand grenade and see if the AF will let me have a shot too!


Matrix_3692 April 1, 2011 at 9:17 am

mind telling me who that Mig-21 belongs to?


MCQknight April 1, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Libyan Air Force. Some defected to the Free Libyan Air Force too. There is a video of rebels dancing on a downed Mig-21, so it was absolutely used by one of the sides.


Navy M April 1, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Goodyear blimp…I heard it leaving the Akron Ohio air dock by Goodyear HQ this am…fully armed…..probably a 30+ day flight…think everything will be over when it gets there ??


Rickvid in Seattle April 1, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Spitfire? Hurricane?


Lance April 1, 2011 at 2:59 pm

You forgot the F-15C also.


MCQknight April 1, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Have we flown any F-15C's in theater? Even if we did I doubt they dropped ordinance, since they are strictly air-to-air platforms (unless they found a Libyan speed boat their AIM-9X could lock on to…)


ragincajun5454 March 31, 2011 at 4:01 pm

What a gorgeous aircraft. I'd kill to be in the cockpit doing 500+ knots about 150-ft off the deck with a little Van Halen or Motley Crue on the intercom:)


ziv March 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Two years ago I was reading a book by the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington Virginia and two B-1's came up the Potomac River from the south, turned left to overfly Arlington Cemetery, then hit the afterburners and they climbed out of the cemetery area to the west… It was unreal! You could feel the sound in your bones. They were climbing at about 30 to 40 degrees, but it looked like they were nearly climbing straight up.
I saw them again when I was in Garden City Arlington 3 days later, apparently an Air Force General had passed away and they did two fly-bys, one practice and one to honor him. But they were an incredible sight, I have a picture of them, but it doesn't do them justice.


swissfreek March 31, 2011 at 5:46 pm

I remember that! Eight F-100s at full burner is a hell of a lot of noise. Lots of car alarms freaking out.


SMSgt Mac March 31, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Palmdale Plant 42 was final assembly for the B-1B. At the time, whenever I visited a contractor on the facility, I'd very frequently see the security guards (didn't matter which contractor) with a battery start cart jumping employee's batteries. Never understood why until I came for a meeting one day and there was a B-1 working the pattern. Every time it powered on the 4 GE F101s (after shooting a 'missed approach') hundreds of car alarms would go off. They'd just about stop when the Bone would make another pass and it would start all over again.


jamesb101 March 31, 2011 at 10:05 pm

You should have been standing next to the R/W when the Concorde lifted out of JFK…..

The sound just went thru your body…..


Jafo70 March 31, 2011 at 8:10 pm

I'm with ragincajun5454. I love that damn plane. 146 feet of pure beautiful kick ass. I'm betting the Bone drivers feel the same way ;)


FormerDirtDart March 31, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Folks over at Military Times are stating this is the first time the B-1 fleet has launched combat sorties from the continental United States to strike targets overseas.


Jonathan March 31, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Funny they said the same thing during Gulf Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the War in Afghanistan.

You actually beleive anything they say?

The B-1B was first used in combat in support of operations against Iraq during Operation Desert Fox in December 1998. In 1999, six B-1s were used in Operation Allied Force, delivering more than 20 percent of the total ordnance while flying less than 2 percent of the combat sorties. Eight B-1s were deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. B1 Bombers dropped nearly 40 percent of the total tonnage during the first six months of OEF. This included nearly 3,900 JDAMs, or 67 percent of the total. All of this was accomplished while maintaining an impressive 79 percent mission capable rate.

And they were flown from bases in the USA. Government just loves to LIE, even when there is no point to.


FormerDirtDart March 31, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Actually, the B-1B's supporting Operation Desert Fox operated out of Thumrait Air Base, in Oman. So, obviously I shouldn't believe anything you say/post.


blight April 1, 2011 at 10:56 am

But he said B-1Bs participated in Desert Fox. But since you say the same thing, does that mean you have to believe something, instead of discounting "anything"?


jamesb101 March 31, 2011 at 10:06 pm

long ride I'd bet…..


FormerDirtDart March 31, 2011 at 11:00 pm

I guess a minor plus is that it likely didn't take quite as long as a B-2 or B-52 would have


Musson April 1, 2011 at 9:51 am

I remember when a 5 ship strike force was sent to Afghanistan. Only two made it because 3 broke down along the way.

A notoriously unreliable aircraft.


jamesb101 March 31, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Lie…or forget stuff?


Max March 31, 2011 at 10:14 pm

I've always loved the B1's for some reason. Probably because of the fact that Jimma Cawta was once again proved an incompetent nincompoop as President by his decision to cancel them. Thank God Ronald Reagan was our President during the '80s. Almost every weapon that we use all the time today was either built or developed during his 8 years in office: the B-1, M1 tank, laser weaponry because of "Star Wars" and so on. If his defense build-up had not happened, I shudder to think how we would have ever dreamed of going to war against Saddam Hussein in 1991 or in 2003. It would have been a completely different situation.


blight March 31, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Reagan was stupid for re-activating the B-1 when it was clearly not needed. ALCMs on B-52s plus B-2 were all this country needed. Building crap that no longer has a strategic role is ridiculous…if Reagan brought back the XB-70 and the AH-56 Cheyenne people would worship the dirt he walked on.


M167A1 March 31, 2011 at 11:43 pm

I disagree, As much as I love it, the 52 should have been out of service long ago. We have never had the will to build enough B-1s or B-2s to replace it.

The B-70 was rightfully canceled as practical As for the B-70 and the AH-56 how or they reliant? except to let you bash someone who is only peripherally part of this story.


blight April 1, 2011 at 11:02 am

So what made the B-1 "practical" over the XB-70? Both were high-altitude bombers and the XB couldnt cut it in low-altitude (plus a spectacular collision, RIP). The B-1 couldn't cut it and was rebooted as B-1B. The resurrection was a political one that could've been applied to any program that was "impractical", which is why I brought up cancelled programs like the Cheyenne and the Valkyrie.

Reagan chose to bring back the B-1 to score political points, not out of strategic necessity. The ICBM and SLBM force guaranteed strategic deterrent, and the B-2's production numbers would have been guaranteed if the procurement choice was obsolescent B-52s.

The B-1's odyssey and eventual cost guaranteed strategic bomber funds would be split between B-2 and B-1. The B-2 buy was heavily garnished because the B-1s were around, and if they weren't we would have had more than 20 B-2s.


Atomic Walrus April 1, 2011 at 3:38 pm

As you mention, XB-70 would never have been used as a low-altitude aircraft because the whole design was optimized for supersonic cruise. With the advent of SAMs, its mission profile was no longer viable. B-1 was always intended for some low level flight (hi-lo-hi profile.) What changed between B-1A and B-1B was that the supersonic dash component of the mission was eliminated. That resulted in deletion of features like the variable geometry inlets, replacing them with some low-observable features that were meant to make the aircraft more survivable. Of course, it's arguable whether manned bombers made any sense as a strategic force by the 1970s and 1980s - SLBMs and ICBMs were simply better at delivering nuclear warheads. However, the B-1 has turned into a fairly good bomb truck.

FormerDirtDart March 31, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Carter canceled the B-1A. The B-1B is a much different plane, redesigned to perform a different mission.


DualityOfMan April 1, 2011 at 12:04 am

The M1 tank was accepted a couple weeks after Reagan entered office.
And when have we used laser weaponry in Iraq? Or anywhere?


Josh April 1, 2011 at 1:09 pm

The B-1B is a Regan era aircraft. Carter killed the B-1A prgram, originally designed as a HIGH flying supersonic bomber.


blight April 1, 2011 at 1:56 pm

B-1A cancelled in '77 (Carter). Testing of airframes continues through election season in '80. Reagan says B-1A should not have been cancelled in election season, arguing weak on defense. Reagan elected. Contracts re-awarded in 1982 for B-1B precursor.

Reagan acknowledged that the B-1A in its present state was a failure by reissuing as B-1B. So in election season he said Carter was wrong on B-1A, but by redoing it as B-1B he vindicates Carter's decision.

My hypothesis is that Reagan would probably have thrown anything produced by the defense industry into production: this is the era where we had old carriers like the USS Midway in commission, the beginnings of the "600-ship Navy" and a great variety of military equipment under the sun (emulating our Soviet rivals). Our attitude was very much a build-and-spend one, and it is an attitude that Republicans to this day credit with Cold War victory.


ForrestCantrell April 1, 2011 at 2:41 pm

I was fortunate to see a firepower demonstration at Nellis AFB about 10 years ago wherein a B-1 made a relatively low pass and dumped a full load of 500-lb bombs. Not sure you'd want to do that if there were hostile MANPADS around, but it was a stunning display of airpower.


Max April 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm


Where have you guys been? With your heads in the sand? If it weren't for the SDI, which Liberals absolutely hated because they didn't want confrontation with Communism but collaboration, that news article would never have happened. Lasers are about to become THE weapon of choice over the next 20 years or so.

I read another article on this same subject that they had achieved enough laser power to burn through dozens or hundreds of FEET of steel with a single blast. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!!


Max April 1, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Here's the quote I was looking for:

"Currently, the free-electron laser project produces the most-powerful beam in the world, able to cut through 20 feet of steel per second. If it gets up to its ultimate goal, of generating a megawatt's worth of laser power, it'll be able to burn through 2,000 feet of steel per second. Just add electrons."

Here's the web link: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2011-02/21/us…

Wake up, all you laser skeptics! You're about to get a huge surprise over the next decade or two.


blight April 1, 2011 at 4:29 pm

We are waiting for the following advances:

-Solid state technology, plus miniaturization
-Increased output, to cut through things
-Rapid charge/discharge rates
-Robust electronics to work in field conditions.


blight April 1, 2011 at 4:30 pm

To the point where the Libyan rebels get disgusted at our indiscriminate killing?

We are rapidly reaching the point where we can park bomb trucks overhead and destroy stuff at will like in AfPak. Which is nice.


blight April 1, 2011 at 4:28 pm

It has, though it remains more costly than the B-52 (mysteriously enough). I questioned the hypocrisy of the time of using the B-1 as a political weapon against Carter, and the possible consequences the B-1's procurement had on the bomber force (leading to in my mind the reduced B-2 buy).


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