Rockwell B-1 Lancer
Role: strategic bomber
Manufacturer: North American Rockwell/Rockwell International (Boeing since 1996)
Variants: B-1A, B-1B
The B-1 bomber features a long and slim fuselage, a variable-geometry wing with a maximum sweep of 67 degrees and small canard foreplanes and is powered by four F101 turbofan engines mounted in under-wing nacelles.
The B-1 was first designed as a supersonic nuclear capable strategic bomber able to penetrate Soviet airspace at high altitude during the Cold War. Four prototypes of the B-1 were built before the program was cancelled in 1977. This first version was designated B-1A following the B-1's redevelopment into the B-1B ordered in 1981.
The production B-1B was based on the initial B-1 design, but optimized for low-level high-subsonic nuclear strike missions. Changes from the original B-1 design include strengthened landing gear and airframe, redesigned wing gloves, simplified fixed engine inlets and significant use of composite materials in the aircraft's construction to reduce weight, and increase maximum take-off weight and weapon carrying capability. The fuselage is slightly shorter than on the B-1A. For survivability the B-1B uses radar absorbing material to cover much of the airframe to reduce the radar cross-section and was fitted with advanced defensive measures.
After the Cold War, the B-1B underwent a series of conventional weapon capability upgrades to utilize the aircraft's payload and long-range capabilities for non-nuclear conflicts. The addition of precision weapons and targeting pod evolved the B-1B into a close air support platform. The latest upgrades and the addition of the conventionally-armed AGM-158 JASSM-ER resulted in the B-1B regaining its stand-off capability.