U.S. Air Force Grounds B-1B Lancer Strategic Bomber Fleet Amid Concerns with Drogue Chute System

The Commander of the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) has ordered a safety stand-down of the B-1B Lancer strategic bomber fleet amid safety concerns with the drogue chute system, on March 28.

During a routine inspection of the B-1B drogue chute system, potentially fleet-wide issues were identified with the rigging of the drogue chute, said a AFGSC statement.

According to the statement, the issue appears to be a procedural issue and is unrelated to the previous problem with egress system components. As a precautionary measure, the commander directed a holistic inspection of the entire egress system. The safety stand-down will afford maintenance and Aircrew Flight Equipment technicians the necessary time to thoroughly inspect each aircraft. As these inspections are completed and any issues are resolved, aircraft will return to flight.

The Rockwell B-1 Lancer is a supersonic variable-sweep wing, heavy bomber used by the United States Air Force. It is commonly called the “Bone” (from “B-One”). It is one of three strategic bombers in the U.S. Air Force fleet as of 2018, the other two being the B-2 Spirit and the B-52 Stratofortress.

The Air Force had 66 B-1Bs in service. The B-1B is expected to continue to serve into the 2030s, with the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider to begin replacing the B-1B after 2025. The B-1s currently in inventory will be retired by 2036.

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