When the 96th bomb Wing at Dyess AFB, Texas, received its first Rockwell B-1B in March of 1985 there could have been a few members of SAC who did not look on the drab shape and sigh with relief as they remebered President Carter's decision in 1977 to halt the B-1 program, leaving the ageing B-52 and the non-too-plentiful FB-111 to promote America's manned bomber deterrent. That the B-1 survived and did not go the way of the XB-70 was due to a number of factors, chief among these being the need for a balanced strategic triad, neglected under Carter but nurtured by Reagan. The B-1B is similar in shape to the four B-1A prototypes built in the 1970s, but under the skin it is a very diffrent airplane, incorporating technical advances to ensure that it can penetrate modern defenses well into the 1990s. Two of the B-1As were used to prove modifications of the redesign, the second prototype being used for weapons and systems development and the fourth aircraft for defensive and offensive avionics testing. The mission profile of the B-1B is to disperse to small airfields intimes of international tension, scrable within four minutes, refuel in mid-air, cruise out at economical altitude and speed, then fly the penetration phase at very low altitude and high subsonic speed to attack with nuclear missiles or bombs. Fortunately it now appears improbable that this mission will never be flown, although conventional bombing and minelaying sorties cannot be ruled out for the future.
Nation of Orgin: USA
Constructor: Rockwell International
Type: Strategic bomber
Span: 136ft 8.5in
Wing Area: 1,950sq.ft
Weights: Empty 180,000lb, Max loaded 477,000lb
Engines: Four GE F101-GE-102 augmented turbofans, each rated at 30,000lb with full afterburner
Max speed: Mach 1.4
Service ceiling: 49,000ft
Take off length: Field lenth less than 4,500ft at light weights
Armament: Eight AGM-86B Cruise missiles internally plus four externally, 24 AGM-69 Spram internally plus 14 externally; 24 B61 or B83 nuklear weapons.