Retired ‘Lancelot’ B-1B Lancer Being Returned to Active Service

Photo Credit: Clayton Cummins / U.S. Air Force / U.S. Air Force Materiel Command
Photo Credit: Clayton Cummins / U.S. Air Force / U.S. Air Force Materiel Command

The US Air Force has made the decision to reactivate a Rockwell B-1B Lancer it put into storage three years ago. The strategic bomber, nicknamed Lancelot, is currently undergoing upgrades, after which it will be sent to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, to serve as part of the Strategic Bomber Fleet.

Members of the 10th Flight Test Squadron standing in front of the Rockwell B-1B Lancer 'Lancelot'
10th Flight Test Squadron with the Rockwell B-1B Lancer Lancelot, 2024. (Photo Credit: Paul Shirk / U.S. Air Force / U.S. Air Force Materiel Command)

Lancelot was the 41st B-1 Lancer to roll off the manufacturing line as part of Lot 4 production, and had previously served under the nicknames Equalizer and Aftershock. In March 2021, under the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2021 fiscal year, the aircraft was decommissioned and put into storage.

Retired to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, it appeared as though Lancelot would live out of the rest of its life in the aircraft boneyard. However, a “catastrophic fire engine failure” during maintenance on another bomber in 2022 meant the US Air Force had to make the decision regarding the strategic bomber.

The Air Force Materiel Command said in a press release that the decision to reactivate Lancelot came after a review of proposals presented to the B-1 System Program Office at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma regarding next steps. The military branch has a Congressional mandate regarding the size of the operational fleet, meaning there was two options: repair the damaged aircraft or replace it with another B-1.

“With projected repair costs to fix the fire-damaged aircraft expected to be cost-prohibitive, Air Force officials elected to regenerate Lancelot,” the statement explained.

Rockwell B-1B Lancer 'Lancelot' parked on a runway
Rockwell B-1B Lancer Lancelot at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, 2024. (Photo Credit: Paul Shirk / U.S. Air Force / U.S. Air Force Materiel Command)

Once the choice was made, Lancelot was sent to Tinker to “begin the regeneration process,” after which it’ll rejoin the Strategic Bomber Fleet. According to the Air Force Materiel Command, members from the 309th AMARG, the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess, and the 76th Expeditionary Depot Maintenance and 569th Egress Flight will be providing the B-1B with any “upgrades missed during its retirement so that its capabilities match other aircraft in the fleet.”

Once this work has been completed, the 10th Flight Test Squadron will perform a functional test flight and deliver Lancelot to Dyess.

Speaking in the press release, Jason Justice, a technical analyst contractor at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, said, “I feel this project is important in continuing to prove the reliability of the B-1 and its use for airpower and air superiority. Our B-1 community is a tight knit family who demonstrates over and over that the B-1 is a viable platform when given the right people and money, to produce the requirements needed to meet our flying commitment to airpower.”

Lockheed C-130 Hercules flying over the runway at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas
Runway at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, 1988. (Photo Credit: TSgt Blakely / United States Air Force / Defense Visual Information Center / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

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The B-1 Lancer was developed by Rockwell during the latter stages of the Cold War. Still in service with the US Air Force, it serves as one of three of the branch’s strategic bombers, with the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit and the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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