B-1B Bomber Wrecked, Crew OK
A B-1B Lancer, the Cold War-era swing-wing bomber, crashed in a remote part of southeastern Montana on Monday, but all four crew members ejected. The four were taken to local hospitals but all are expected to survive, officials said. The bomber, which was destroyed, was one of about 60 still in the U.S. Air Force fleet, and was worth about $283 million. Photos of the crash site show a massive charred area with no apparent aircraft parts visible, according to The Associated Press. The flight was a routine training mission out of South Dakota's Ellsworth Air Force Base, according to U.S. Air Force officials.
The last crash of one of the bombers was in 2001, when one of the airplanes involved in the war in Afghanistan was lost in the Indian Ocean. The crew ejected safely, and the pilots later said they had problems controlling the airplane. The wreck was not recovered and no official cause for the crash was ever found. The Air Force will investigate this week's crash to determine a cause. The B-1B fleet of 100 aircraft was produced by Rockwell in the 1980s to carry nuclear weapons. In the 1990s, the airplanes were transitioned to a conventional-weapons mission. They can fly at speeds up to Mach 1.25.