U.S. Air Force orders grounding of entire B-1 bomber fleet

U.S. Air Force file photo by Staff Sgt. Clayton Cupit

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, LA —  The US Air Force ordered the grounding of its entire B-1 bomber fleet on Thursday, citing safety concerns over the aircraft’s ejection seat system.

The concern is over the “drogue chute system,” which is used to right the ejection seat prior to the parachute deploying.

The Air Force Global Strike Command ordered the grounding after a routine safety inspection identified potentially fleet-wide issues with the rigging of the drogue chute. The new concern is unrelated to a previous problem with the egress system components that caused a similar grounding last year.

The stand-down will allow the B-1B Lancers to be inspected so that any issues can be resolved.

The Air Force says the move is a precautionary step to ensure the safety of its Airmen.

The news comes a day after it was announced that Ellsworth Air Force Base will become the first home of the B-21 Raider, which is replacing both B-1 and B-2 bombers, as well as a formal training unit for the new aircraft.

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