The Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) in the US has sent the last of 17 B-1B Lancer bombers to a boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona.

The move completes a divestiture programme that involved retiring 17 ageing B-1B Lancers as part of a modernisation programme.

AFGSC director of logistics and engineering brigadier general Kenyon Bell said: “The divestiture plan was executed very smoothly.

“With fewer aircraft in the B-1 fleet, maintainers will be able to give more time and attention to each aircraft remaining in the fleet.”

Following the completion of the divestiture, the current B-1B aircraft inventory includes 45 active units.

One of the retired units was sent to Tinker AFB in Oklahoma as a prototype for structural repair actions while another one was transferred to Edwards AFB as a ground tester.

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Another aircraft is at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, as a static display for the Barksdale Global Power Museum while the fourth one was sent to the National Institute for Aviation Research in Kansas for digital mapping.

The remaining 13 units will be stored at the boneyard at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan AFB in Type 4000 storage. Four of those will be kept in a reclaimable condition.

The retirement of these B-1B aircraft will enable AFGSC to move towards B-21 heavy bombers. AFGSC will also focus on modernisation to enhance the capabilities of the existing bomber fleet.

Bell added: “Beginning to retire these legacy bombers allows us to pave the way for the B-21 Raider.

“Continuous operations over the last 20 years have taken a toll on our B-1B fleet, and the aircraft we retired would have taken between $10m and $30m per aircraft to get back to a status quo fleet in the short term until the B-21 comes online.”

Earlier this year, a US Air Force’s (USAF’s) 37th Bomb Squadron (BS) B-1B Lancer performed a refuelling mission with a KC-46A Pegasus strategic military tanker and transport aircraft.