A U.S. Air Force B-1B bomber crashed this morning in southeastern Montana.
The crash occurred at around 9 a m during what Air Force officials called a routine training mission.
Emergency services from around the region responded, including volunteer firefighters from nearby Ekalaka and the Carter County Sheriff’s Department.
The bomber that crashed was one of 28 B-1s in service at the Ellsworth Air Force Base. It was attached to the 28th Bomb Wing.
The B-1B Lancer is an air-to-ground bomber originally designed to replace the B-52 Stratofortress. It was supposed to penetrate Soviet airspace quickly, deliver its payload, and evade Soviet air defenses.
The first B-1s flew in 1986 during the Reagan administration. The Air Force eventually received around 100 of the aircraft; about a third of those remain in service.
The B-1 has two pilots and two weapons systems officers. Witnesses to the crash say they saw the crew bailout just before the aircraft exploded. The names of the crew members have not been released.
Colonel Kevin Kennedy, commander of the 28th Bomb Wing, told MTN News that all four had escaped with only minor injuries. He added that the Air Force’s efforts at present were focused on taking care of the crew and their families and working with local authorities to secure the crash scene.
The cause of the crash has yet to be established, but for sure the Air Force are very concerned.
This is at least the third aircraft they have lost this summer. Last month a QF-4 target drone crashed near a Florida highway. That crash was the second at the same base in less than a month.
Why did this B-1 bomber crash? Many interested parties will anxiously await the results of the investigation into its cause.