B-1Bs Relocated From Ellsworth AFB Amid Ongoing Crash Investigation

About 250 aircrew, maintainers, and support personnel are accompanying the aircraft to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.

A B-1B Lancer, assigned to the 37th Bomb Squadron, taxis onto the runway at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, on January 25. Upon completion of the takeoffs, the airfield was closed again until further notice as the accident investigation team continued its work. [Courtesy: U.S. Air Force]

B-1B Lancers have been moved from Ellsworth Air Force Base (AFB) amid the ongoing investigation into a bomber crash during a training exercise at the South Dakota air base earlier this month.

The January 4 mishap occurred as two Air Force B-1Bs assigned to the air base conducted a local training sortie as a formation. The lead aircraft landed successfully, but the second aircraft crashed during the landing phase. All four aircrew on board the bomber ejected safely.

"The investigation is currently still ongoing at the scene of the crash. The aircraft has not been moved and remains adjacent to the runway," Staff Sergeant Jake Jacobsen, spokesperson for the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth AFB, told FLYING.

The runway, which has remained closed since the incident, was temporarily reopened Thursday to move "several" B-1Bs to Dyess AFB near Abilene, Texas. 

“It’s not out of the ordinary to have jets from different squadrons included in training packages, whether we are operating at home or deployed,” Colonel Seth Spanier, commander of the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess AFB, said in a statement. “But anytime we have the opportunity to share knowledge and experiences across squadrons is extremely valuable and contributes to the overall readiness and lethality of the conventional bomber force.”

A B-1B Lancer assigned to the 37th Bomb Squadron taxis on the flightline at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, on January 25. The flights are the first missions since the base’s airfield was closed January 4 following the bomber crash where all four aircrew safely ejected. [Courtesy: U.S. Air Force]

Following their departure, the airfield was closed again until further notice. "Until then we will continue operations out of Dyess AFB," Jacobsen said. "...About 250 aircrew, maintainers, and logistics support personnel accompanying the jets are expected to work at Dyess."

The undisclosed number of aircraft are expected to be at the Texas air base for several weeks.

Thursday's flights—the first at Ellsworth since January 4—demonstrate the B-1B combat wing's capability, Colonel Derek Oakley, commander of the 28th Bomb Wing, said in a statement.

“While our airfield operations are currently on hold as part of the investigation, [Thursday] we proved that this weapon system is mission capable,” Oakley said.

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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