Bad News: Not All of America's B-1 Bombers Are Ready for War

Key point: B-1 bombers are important and it is vital to have all of them ready for any contingency.

Just seven of the U.S. Air Forces 61 B-1 bombers are fully mission-capable, South Dakota senator Mike Rounds revealed on July 30, 2019.

The B-1 shortfall could weigh on the Air Forces plans for a new bomber.

Fifteen of the swing-wing B-1s are in depots for maintenance. Thirty-nine aircraft are down for inspections, Rounds said during a Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing for Air Force general John Hyten.

Hyten is Pres. Donald Trumps nominee to become vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His candidacy is imperiled by a serious accusation of sexual assault.

Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota houses two B-1 squadrons. Others are based in Texas and California. B-1s for many years flew from bases in the Middle East for long-endurance close-air-support missions over Iraq and Afghanistan.

Round-the-clock operations took a toll on the 1980s-vintage warplanes. The Air Force twice in 2018 and 2019 grounded the B-1 fleet following mechanical failures.

We were just beating the heck out of them, deploying them, deploying them, Hyten said of the B-1s in response to Rounds comment. We had to pull back a little and get after fixing those issues. The depots can do that if they have stable funding.

A dearth of flyable B-1s has compelled the Air Force to transfer aircrew to other types, according toAir Force magazine reporter Rachel Cohen, citing a Senate subcommittee report....

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