Trim B-1 fleet to strengthen remaining bombers, says SD senator
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Earlier this week, President Donald Trump unveiled a budget that would mean the retirement of 17 of the 60+ B-1 bomber fleet.
Senator Mike Rounds says the discussion of cutting back has been on the table for about nine months. He says it’s still unclear of how many bombers would retire at Ellsworth Air Force Base versus Dyess Air Force Base in Texas.
The reduction would allow spare parts to come off of retired bombers to feed the flying fleet.
Rounds says the B-1’s have been worn out over the last few decades after being the “bomber of choice.”
“The type of flying they’ve done has been really hard on the platform itself, on the structure of it,” said Rounds. “Some of these bombers simply aren’t safe to fly anymore and instead of pretending that they are, it’s best we recognize it and start using parts of those bombers to fix the other ones.”
He also says the move allows the Air Force to focus efforts and finances on the B-21 bomber, which Rounds says is on time and on budget, instead of the upkeep of the B-1.
Rounds added there would be no impact to personnel, even after retiring the jets, and existing maintenance crews would continue work on the existing fleet.