An incident at Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City has grounded indefinitely all 57 of the nation’s active B-1B Lancer bombers while the nation’s supersonic bomber fleet is checked out.
Air Force Global Strike Command says a bomber experienced a ground emergency dealing with an augmenter fuel pump filter housing after landing at Ellsworth on April 8.
Global Command head General Tim Ray ordered one-time inspections on all 57 planes, then temporarily grounded them Tuesday after it was determined a more invasive inspection was needed to ensure the safety of aircrews.
The new inspection includes taking apart the filter housing and using the latest x-ray and blue light techniques to determine if there are any defects. If none are found, the unit will be reassembled, pressure checked, and returned to service.
Since planes will be cleared to return to flight on an individual basis, Global Strike Command doesn’t know how long it will be until the first and the last planes are back in the area.
The B-1B is housed at Ellsworth and Dyess AFB in Texas with a major maintenance shop at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma.