Readiness of B-1 bomber up in the air, according to SD Senator

WASHINGTON — The readiness of the B-1B bomber is up in the air after Senator Mike Rounds testified during a Senate Armed Services Committee late last month.

During the nomination hearing for General John Hyten to become the next Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Rounds stated only six B-1B bombers are “mission capable.” He says “15 are in depot and a remaining 39 of 44 are down for a variety of discrepancies and inspections.”

The bomber, which is stationed at both Ellsworth Air Force Base in Box Elder and Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, TX, has faced two safety stand downs within the past year for ejection seat issues.

According to General Hyten, constant use of past decades has stressed the force of multiple air frames, not just the B-1B, and “readiness problems date back to the first years of sequestration.” He says stable funding for the Department of Defense would help correct maintenance issues and allow a focus on modernization.

The B-21 Raider is set to replace the B-1B and the B-2 in the late 2020’s. The B-1B is expected to fly into the mid-2030’s.

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