Bones Leave the AOR

B-1s will be taking a break from the fight in the Middle East for the first time since 2001, as aircraft assigned to the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing head home this month for aircraft modifications. Within the past six months, aircraft and crews, deployed from Ellsworth AFB, S.D., flew 490 sorties and dropped 4,850 bombs. The group dropped 2,224 bombs in one month, more than any other B-1B unit, topping the previous deployed team’s mark of 1,068 bombs, said Capt. Abraham Smith, officer-in-charge of the 379th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, in a release. “Hundreds of thousands of manpower hours have been put into the past six months to keep these aircraft running and it’s been a very challenging and an exhausting deployment; however we’ve found ways to make it enjoyable,” Smith said. The B-1B modification, which includes three different improvements to the aircraft’s avionics, is one of the largest ever. Lt. Col. Michael Williams, who leads the 419th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, Calif., told Air Force Magazine last year the modification is so big it “ought to be called the B-1C.” (See also: The Future of Long-Range Strike from the October 2015 issue of the magazine.)