The Air Force would like to reduce the size of the B-1 bomber fleet from 66 to 60 aircraft in order to help pay for upgrades to the B-1s remaining in the inventory and support their long-term sustainability, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told lawmakers last week. This proposal is included in the service’s Fiscal 2012 budget request. “There are savings that are harvested from that,” he told the House Armed Services Committee in testimony on the service’s spending request for next fiscal year. According to the service’s 2011 posture statement, those upgrades include the bomber’s central integrated test system, fully integrated data link, and vertical situation display unit. Donley said the Air Force’s assessment is that this six-aircraft reduction would not create “an unreasonable burden on operational risk” to the B-1 fleet. (Air Force Fiscal 2012 posture statement; caution, large-sized file)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.