The Air Force will maintain 12 combat-coded B-1 bombers in each of its three operational B-1 squadrons in Texas and South Dakota in order to comply with a mandate in H.R. 4310, the Fiscal 2013 defense policy act, announced service officials last week. The legislation directed the Air Force to maintain no less than 36 combat-coded B-1s as part of a fleet of some 60 total B-1s. That mandate will require the Air Force to keep three B-1s in service that were slated for retirement, stated service officials in the plan issued on March 28 that details how the Air Force will implement all of the Fiscal 2013 force structure changes directed by Congress. “We will maintain all 36 aircraft in flyable, combat-coded condition, but will not use the three additional aircraft at the full operational rate due to the repurposing of manpower authorizations previously associated with the three aircraft,” states the plan. The three B-1 operational units are the 9th Bomb Squadron at Dyess AFB, Tex., and the 34th BS and 37th BS at Ellsworth AFB, S.D.
Reports of production troubles on the SpaceX rocket that could contend for military cargo deliveries happened to coincide with a different company’s concept receiving an early nod—one that might not require a rocket at all.