The American B-1B bomber exploded upon landing
B-1B bomber at Edwards Air Force Base, California, USA in December 2020. Photo: US Air Force

The American B-1B Lancer bomber encountered a problem and exploded while landing at the base in South Dakota; the crew ejected to escape safely.

“The B-1B Lancer plane crashed at about 5:50 p.m. today while landing at the base,” a spokesman for Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota state, USA, said on January 4.

Images on social networks show the B-1B bomber exploding after crashing and causing a large fire. The US military said the plane was performing a training mission when it crashed, and all four crew members ejected to escape safely.

At the time of the accident, the weather was very bad and foggy, affecting the pilot’s visibility. Ellsworth base is currently closed pending investigation of the incident.

The B-1B Lancer is a supersonic bomber model that has been in service with the US Air Force since the 1980s. The aircraft is 44.5 m long, more than 10 m high and has an empty weight of 87.1 tons.

The aircraft uses a swept-wing structure, helping to improve take-off and landing capabilities and reduce resistance when flying at low altitudes. The B-1B’s wingspan is 42 m wide when spread and 24 m when folded.

Four jet engines provide propulsion, allowing the B-1B to reach a maximum speed of 1,340 km/h at an altitude of 12,000 m or 1,100 km/h when 150 m above the ground. Lancer’s maximum flight range reaches 9,400 km, which is reduced to 5,545 km if carrying a maximum weapon load.

The B-1B can carry 57 tons of various weapons, including conventional bombs, guided bombs, anti-submarine bombs and long-range cruise missiles. It can also carry up to 24 B61 or B83 nuclear bombs, each with a destructive power equivalent to 21-75 bombs dropped on Hiroshima.

However, the US Air Force eliminated the ability to carry nuclear bombs on the B-1B fleet after the end of the Cold War, turning them into platforms specializing in deploying conventional weapons. Of the 100 B-1Bs originally built, only 60 remain in service, currently stationed at Ellsworth and Dyess Air Force Base in Texas.

This aircraft model has encountered a number of accidents in recent years, especially engine-related incidents. A B-1B suffered severe engine damage while deployed to Norway in 2021, so it had to stay in the country for some time for repairs before being able to return to the US.