Dragon DRW56310 USAF Rockwell B-1B Lancer Bomber - Test Program (1:400 Scale)
"Obsolete weapons do not deter."
- British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
The US Air Force's only serving variable-sweep wing aircraft is the B-1 Lancer bomber. The futuristic design was originally conceived in order to create a long-range, low-level, supersonic penetrator bomber that could deliver nuclear weapons. Built by Rockwell, the B-1B Lancer appeared in 1986, and it has now been converted to conventional bomber missions. The 'Bone' (the name is taken from its designation B-One) is a long-time supporter of missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2003, the B-1B has helped deliver conventional bombs against targets in Iraq. A typical bomb load includes the GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), a weapon that was heavily used in Iraq. At the height of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a B-1 was permanently on station to provide a rapid precision bombardment capability. Today a total of 67 Lancers remain in service.
The new Dragon Warbirds model depicts an aircraft from the official Lancer Test Program. As such, it is resplendent in a white coat of paint and with the appropriate test program markings, including the colorful livery on the tail. The die-cast metal fuselage has been mated to plastic injection-molded wings and landing gear. Of interest, the variable-sweep wings are set in their forward-most unswept position for low-speed flight or takeoff and landing. The lines and details of this white test B-1B Lancer are accurately replicated, and it comes with its own sleek display stand. Special Order!
Wingspan: 4 inches
Length: 4-1/2 inches
Release Date: July 2011
Historical Account: "The Bone" - On taking office, Ronald Reagan was faced with the same decision as Carter before: whether to continue with the B-1 for the short term, or to wait for the development of the ATB, a much more advanced aircraft. Air Force studies suggested that the existing B-52 fleet with ALCM would remain a credible threat until 1985, as it was predicted that 75% of the B-52 force would survive to attack its targets. After this period the introduction of the SA-10 missile, MiG-31 interceptor and the first Soviet AWACS systems would make the B-52 increasingly vulnerable.
During 1981, budget funds were given to a new study for a bomber for the 1990s time-frame. These studies led to the Long-Range Combat Aircraft (LRCA) project which compared the B-1, F-111 and ATB as possible solutions. An emphasis was placed on the design being multi-role, as opposed to a purely strategic weapon. At the time it was believed the B-1 could be in operation before the ATB, covering the time period between the B-52's increasing vulnerability and the introduction of the ATB. Reagan decided the best solution was to purchase both the B-1 and ATB (later B-2), and this eventually led to Reagan's 2 October 1981 announcement that 100 aircraft of a new version of the B-1 was being ordered to fill the LRCA role.
In January 1982 the U.S. Air Force awarded two contracts to Rockwell worth a combined $2.2 billion for the development and production of 100 new B-1 bombers. Numerous changes were made to the design to better fit it to real-world missions, resulting in the new B-1B. These changes included a reduction in maximum speed, which allowed the variable-aspect intake ramps to be replaced by simpler fixed geometry intake ramps in the newer design. This reduced the B version's radar signature; the reduction in radar cross-section was seen as a good trade off for the speed decrease. High subsonic speeds at low altitude became a focus area for the revised design, and low-level speeds were increased from about Mach 0.85 to 0.92. The B-1B has the capability for maximum speeds of about Mach 1.25 at higher altitudes.
The B-1B's maximum takeoff weight was increased to 477,000 pounds (216,000 kg) from the B-1A's 395,000 pounds (179,000 kg). The weight increase was to allow for takeoff with full fuel tanks and for weapons to be carried externally. Rockwell engineers were able to reinforce critical areas and lighten non-critical areas of the airframe, so the increase in empty weight was minimal. In order to deal with the introduction of the MiG-31 and other aircraft with look-down capability, the B-1B's electronic warfare suite was significantly upgraded.