Still Deciding Where to Trim B-1 Fleet

The Air Force is still maturing its proposal to retire six B-1 bombers in Fiscal 2012, said USAF Secretary Michael Donley Wednesday. “We are working through the details of where those aircraft will come from,” Donley told members of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense panel during testimony together with Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. Dyess AFB, Tex., and Ellsworth AFB, S.D., are the two operational B-1 bases. Donley said “the solution will involve both bases” and will take into account that the B-1 schoolhouse is located at Dyess. “So, it is not completely an apples-to-apples comparison in terms of how those adjustments are made,” he said. The Air Force would like to phase out the six aircraft in order to help cover the costs of modernizing the remaining 60 B-1s in the inventory and support their increasing maintenance demands. Schwartz said the Air Force hasn’t determined yet precisely what the retirement status of those aircraft would be at the boneyard. “My hunch would be, given the financial situation we face, that [they] would be in long-term storage and not immediately recoverable,” he said. (Donley-Schwartz written testimony)