A recently retired US Air Force B-1B Lancer flew its final sortie from Ellsworth Air Force Base and landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, February 23, where it will begin the next stage of its life.
The aircraft, tail number 86-0099, was one of the 17 Lancers to be retired by the Air Force. However, this particular aircraft will continue to serve despite never flying again.
0099 is set to become the Edwards Aircraft Ground Integration Lab, or EAGIL.
“EAGIL will be a non-flyable aircraft that will be used as an integration lab for future upgrades,” said Stephen Salas, B-1 Platform Lead, Global Power Bombers Combined Test Force.
“We plan to do avionics software, weapon and hardware testing, new equipment fit checks, prototyping efforts and EAGIL will be used to support weapon load training, egress training, as well as aircraft familiarization for new personnel.”
“EAGIL will save 100-200 days of scheduled downtime for our two flyable developmental test aircraft,” Salas explained.
A detailed review determined which aircraft systems needs to be maintained to allow aircraft use for ground testing and other training uses. This review was used to establish regular maintenance schedules and help determine annual support costs. The CTF intends to leave the 0099 “tow capable” so that the jet can be moved, based on test requirements.
The US Air Force plans to retire 17 Bones, as the supersonic heavy bomber is often referred to, this year. This will will leave the service with 45 aircraft in the fleet. Worth noting is that four of the 17 airframes will be required to remain in a reclaimable condition that is consistent with Type 2000 recallable storage.
Gen. Timothy Ray, commander Air Force Global Strike Command, recently said, “retiring aircraft with the least amount of usable life allows us to prioritize the health of the fleet and crew training. Our ability to balance these priorities will make us more capable and lethal overall.”
“The divestiture of the B-1 is necessary in order for the Air Force to create an even more lethal, agile and sustainable force with a greater competitive edge for tomorrow’s fight,” Ray added.
0099’s new role as the EAGIL will support planned testing needed to sustain and improve the B-1s warfighting capabilities for years to come.