A US Air Force’s (USAF) B-1B Lancer bomber aircraft has crashed during a routine training mission near a remote area of south-eastern Montana, US.
The crew of four, including two pilots and two weapons system officers, were however safely ejected without any life-threatening injuries from the aircraft prior to the crash near Broadus, at approximately 9:30am on 19 August, Associated Press reports.
The personnel were later transferred by ambulance and air to two South Dakota hospitals.
Built in 1985, the bomber belonged to 28th Bomb Wing of South Dakota-based Ellsworth Air Force Base, which possesses a total of 28 B-1s, including the crashed aircraft, and represents one of only two US bases to have B-1B crews.
28th Bomb Wing commander colonel Kevin Kennedy was quoted by the news agency as saying that all flights from the air base have been temporarily suspended and will resume only after safer operation by the wing’s maintenance and operations group commanders is ensured.
The air force officials will carry out a comprehensive investigation to determine the cause of the crash, Kennedy said.
Meanwhile, USAF spokesman lieutenant colonel Allen Herritage said a B-1B bomber is valued at around $283m.
Manufactured by Boeing, the B-1B Lancer is a long-range and supersonic variable-sweep wing bomber operated by the USAF in support of the US and Nato missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Powered by four General Electric F101-GE-102 turbofan engines, the bomber is capable of rapidly delivering massive quantities of precision and non-precision weapons against any adversary and at any time worldwide.
The second base to house the B-1B fleet, which is expected to remain in service until 2025, is Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas, US.
Image: A 28th Bomb Wing’s B-1 Lancer bomber practices touch and go procedures at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, US. Photo: courtesy of USAF.