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The B-1 Bomber

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THE B-1 Bomber: Victim of a “Buy before you Fly: Philosophy

December 17, 2015

THE B-1 Bomber: Victim of a “Buy before you Fly: Philosophy
The B-1 Bomber is a four-engine supersonic variable-sweep wing, jet-powered heavy strategic Bomber that is used by the U.S. Air Force. It was first envisioned in the 1950’s as a supersonic Bomber with Mach 2 speed, and sufficient range and payload to replace the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress. However, when it was brought into full operation, it was developed into the B-1B, primarily a low level penetrator with long range and Mach 1.25 speed capability at high altitude.
The initial B-1 Bomber program was cancelled, partly because it was becoming obsolete, and also for political reasons. It was designed by the Rockwell international developers and it started service in the year of 1986 with the help of Strategic Air Command SAC.
Customer and Expectations The United States Air Force USAF was the primary customer for the B-1B program, and the Strategic Air Command was the direct customer responsible for operating the B-1 Bomber. During development of the B-1 Bomber the Air Force had varying expectations which lead to it initial cancellation and regeneration of the B-1B that we know today. (Brook, 2012).
The United Sates Air Force USAF expected the B-1B program to provide the advanced capability that was needed to improve their defense system. The major expectation associated with this program for the United Sates Air Force was to give the Air Force long range attack capability. (, 2014)
This program was very significant and it followed the major developments and advancements towards the United States Air Force USAF. In those times the United States was going through various critical situations and due to the cold war security in the United States was at a high level with much at stake. Due to the world environment the Air Force was in need of high speed jets that could provide them the advantage of attacking from a long range with increased security (, 2014).
Moreover, it was necessary that the U.S. Air Force had to fight on an international level. Due to the tension between the various countries the U.S. Air Force was in great need of aircraft that could give more range and strength to help them maintain our security. There were lots of points and ideas that demonstrated the need for more advanced aircraft so that the U.S. could increase their level of security. The B-1 program was meeting these needs and requirements of U.S. Air Force. (, 2015).

Analysis of what happened
President Richard Nixon reestablished the Advanced Manned Strategic Aircraft (AMSA) program after taking office, keeping with his administration's flexible response strategy that required a broad range of options short of general nuclear war. Nixon's Secretary of Defense, Melvin Laird, reviewed the programs and decided to lower the numbers of FB-111s, since they lacked the desired range, and recommended that the AMSA design studies be accelerated. In April 1969, the program officially became the B-1A. (Schwartz, 1988) This was the first entry in the new Bomber designation series, first created in 1962. The first proposals of the B-1 Bomber were proposed by the Boeing. The B-1 Bomber first prototype was developed in the year of 1974 (, 1983)
As production started the production price per unit started to increase due to the high inflation rate. It reached $40 million and at the end of 1975 it was $70 million. Along with rising prices, there were various problems that started occurring with the development of this programs the B-1 Bomber.
As the problems were occurring with the B-1 build process, the Air Force claimed to be `holding the contractor's feet to the fire' and was determined to make the defense avionics system meet contract specifications. A plan was finalized in January 1988, and subsequent testing of the defense avionics system in March-June 1988 revealed more `major design deficiencies.' These indicated that the system would never meet contract specifications. As a result of the new problems, further negotiations were held, resulting in still another recovery program. The contracting officer and general counsel concluded that the proposed modifications to the defense avionics system were within the scope of the original contracts and therefore rightly charged to the original appropriations. On the basis of that determination, the Secretary of the Air Force approved a plan to use in excess of $1 billion of expired and `M' account funds to finance the contract modifications. While the GAO, after evaluating all the facts, concurred on those plans, they acknowledge that these were highly controversial decisions to say the least. The changes lowered the specified performance capabilities of the defense avionics system and increased the cost. (, 1983)
Adding to the above problems, Soviet pilot Viktor Belenko defected to Japan with his MiG-25 “Foxbat”. During his debriefing he described a new “super-Foxbat” that had shot-down radar in order to attack cruise missiles. This news made it clear that any low level aircraft would be visible to attack. This meant that the B-1 would be no better than the B-52 at hiding in Soviet airspace, the plane it was meant to replace. This helped cast a shadow over the B-1 program making it appear to be a waste of tax-payers’ dollars. (, 2015).
During the election campaign of the 1976 Jimmy Carter described that this program was creating problems for the economy of United States due to its high cost. In the 1977 the entire program was being reviewed at the direction of President Carter. After reviewing the entire program the per unit cost of this program had increased to $100 million per craft and that was pretty high for the economy of United States of America (, 2012).
In addition to the other problems that occurred with the B-1 program, stealth technology was on the horizon, and it was considered a better technological approach for the United States Air Force USAF in comparison to the B-1 Bomber. Moreover, the B-1 Bomber faced a lot of accidents that aided the cancellation of the program. The first crash that was experienced by the B-1 Bomber when it was performing a low speed test. The crew member used the escape capsule to save their lives. In this accident the crew members faced some injuries but survived. (, 2014)
Another B-1 Bomber from Dyess, AFB crashed in La Junta, Colorado while it was on a low level training mission. In this crash the B-1 Bomber faced problems with its fuel tank and in its hydraulic lines. (Rapier, 2015).
The design of B-1 Bomber has caused many incidents that has contributed to the end of its significant project of history. Considering these various accidents and the program costs, the B-1 Bomber program was cancelled by President Carter in 1977 in favor of ICBMs, SLBMs, and a fleet of modernized B-52s armed with ALCMs. (, 2014)
There are various points that could be associated with the obstacles experienced by this program. One major consideration is the emphasis on the cost control. The B-1B cost estimate prepared by the program office to acquire 100 aircraft excluded program acquisition cost of about $1.4 billion identified by independent OSD and Air Force cost analysts. Not disclosing these cost provided a much lower program cost estimate, which contributed to the out of control cost perception. (, 1983)
Logistics is another area of consideration. The logistics support considerations that normally begin with the initiation of a weapon system concept, were oriented towards aircraft research and development efforts before it was terminated and then reestablished when the B-1B program started. This caused the logistics planning and development to be behind other programs. (, 1983)
Research, development, testing and evaluation (RDT&E) procedures should have been modified to fit the second generation B-1B. A significant amount of testing was done under the prior B-1A program. However, configuration changes and redesigned avionics for the B-1B aircraft occurred making the earlier test results questionable. This may have lead to the larger number of crashes experienced by the aircraft. (, 1983)

Conclusion In short it can be said that the B-1 Bomber program was a very significant project in the history of Unites Sates Air Forces. This program lead to different advancements and developments in the United States Air Force; although, there were several deficiencies faced during the evolution of this program, and thus it was canceled after some years. Some areas that could have used more attention that may have helped this program are cost estimating, logistics planning and RDT&E. Proper focus in these areas create a situation where we take a broad look at a program to fully understand all the elements that are required to design, produce and sustain a weapons program.

References: (2015). B-1B LANCER. Retrieved 12 12, 2015, from
Brook, T. V. (2012). "B-1 Bomber mission shifts from Afghanistan to China, Pacific.". USA Today. (1983). The B-1 Bomber Program--A New Start. Retrieved 12 12, 2015, from (2014). ROCKWELL B-1 LANCER. Retrieved 12 14, 2015, from
La Rue, N. (2008). "B-1 Sniper pod aims to hit summer target. US Air Force, 04.
Rapier, G. (2015). The US Air Force’s B-1 Bomber just turned 30. Retrieved 12 12, 2015, from
STROSS, R. (2012). Billion-Dollar Flop: Air Force Stumbles on Software Plan. New York Times , 03. Retrieved from (2012). Tag Archives: Rockwell B-1 Lancer. Retrieved 12 15, 2015, from
Wicke, R. (2006). "ACC declares small diameter bomb initially operational.". US Air Force, .

Wicke, R. (2006). "ACC declares small diameter bomb initially operational.". US Air Force, .…...

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