B-1B Bombers And 250 Airman Moving To Texas Following Crash

 January 27, 2024

In a significant development at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, B-1B Lancers and their airmen are being temporarily relocated to Texas.

This move is a response to an ongoing investigation into a recent crash of one of the bombers.

Ellsworth Air Force Base, located near Rapid City, has been a hub of activity since Thursday. Airmen have started the process of moving an undisclosed number of B-1B Lancers to Dyess Air Force Base near Abilene, Texas.

This decision was made public by officials from both military bases.

Tragic Incident Leads to Precautionary Measures

The relocation follows a serious incident earlier this month involving a B-1B Lancer. During a training mission at Ellsworth, one of these bombers crashed, causing significant damage to the runway and halting flight operations.

The airfield remains closed as the Safety Investigation Board continues its thorough investigation into the crash, Military reported.

"The airfield is closed again until further notice as the Safety Investigation Board continues its work," said a statement from the 28th Bomb Wing. "Until then, we will continue operations out of Dyess AFB."

Support and Readiness: The Core of the Mission

Approximately 250 aircrew, maintainers, and other support personnel are expected to join the relocated aircraft in Texas. They will continue their operations for several weeks alongside the Lancers. The base has not disclosed the exact number of Lancers involved in this relocation.

Col. Derek Oakley, commander of the 28th Bomb Wing, emphasized the readiness of the B-1 force despite the challenges.

"It also reassures our allies and partners that we are steadfast in supporting them when needed and reminds our nation's adversaries of the capabilities we can bring to any fight, anywhere around the globe," Oakley stated. "And while our airfield operations are currently on hold as part of the investigation, today we proved that this weapon system is mission capable."

The unfortunate incident on Jan. 4 involved a B-1B bomber attempting to land at Ellsworth during a training mission. The crash occurred around 5:50 p.m. local time with a crew of four on board. Two Lancers were involved in this training mission; while the first landed successfully, the second crashed, leading to the ejection of all crew members and their subsequent medical care.

Investigation and Historical Context of the B-1B Lancer

As of Friday, the damaged aircraft remains at the crash site, with the investigation still in progress. The B-1B Lancer, a staple in the Air Force since the mid-1980s, has about 60 aircraft left in the fleet. They are usually divided between Dyess in Texas and Ellsworth in South Dakota.

Each bomber, costing around $317 million, is a long-range aircraft. Originally nuclear-capable, the B-1B's nuclear mission was eliminated in 1994, and it ceased to be considered for nuclear armament in 2007.

This recent crash is not the first incident involving a Lancer. In 2022, a B-1B at Dyess caught fire, resulting in hospitalization for two individuals. Furthermore, a little over a decade ago, another Lancer from Ellsworth crashed in Montana. The crew safely ejected, but the crash caused damage to private property.


In a broader context, the Air Force is evolving with new technology. In late 2022, the B-21 Raider was unveiled, marking the first new bomber in the American military's fleet in over 30 years.

This new bomber is expected to eventually replace both the B-2 Spirit and the B-1B Lancer in the 2030s.

As investigations continue, the relocation of these aircraft and personnel underscores the commitment to safety and operational readiness. The B-1B Lancer has served the U.S. Air Force for decades, and this recent event highlights both its historical significance and the ongoing evolution of military aviation technology.

  • Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota relocates B-1B Lancers and personnel to Texas following a crash.
  • The crash caused significant runway damage, leading to the temporary closure of flight operations.
  • Approximately 250 aircrew, maintainers, and support personnel will operate from Dyess Air Force Base for several weeks.
  • Col. Derek Oakley stresses the readiness and capability of the B-1 force.
  • The recent crash is part of a series of incidents involving B-1B Lancers over the years.
  • The introduction of the B-21 Raider indicates a shift in the U.S. Air Force's bomber fleet.

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