Air Force Aircraft Crashes During Training Mission

( – A B-1B Lancer crashed during an early evening training mission at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. The four-member crew managed to eject from the aircraft before it made impact, and no one was critically injured. First responder communications indicate that there was an explosion that led to a fire, but there’s no word on whether it occurred before or after the impact.

The weather may have played a role, but a board of officers with the US Air Force is still investigating the cause of the incident. Air and Space Forces reports that the visibility had been limited due to dense fog, and the craft had been flying in below-freezing conditions.

The Ellsworth Air Force Base shared about the crash on its Facebook page on January 4. It stated that the plane went down at roughly 5:50 p.m. during a landing attempt. All four crew members were treated for their wounds at the base, with one of them going to the hospital for additional care. No one sustained any life-threatening injuries. The airbase temporarily shut down similar air traffic, offering no details on how long the event would affect flight operations.

Ellsworth is located near Rapid City, in South Dakota’s Black Hills, and it’s one of only two military properties worldwide that houses B-1 aircraft. The military base has two B-1B Lancer squadrons in its operations group, with over 20 aircraft on assignment. The planes can reach supersonic speeds of over 900 miles per hour, and they can carry a wide array of weapons including bombs, air-to-surface missiles, and cluster munitions.

The Lancers have reportedly suffered the effects of heavy use, having spent about 20 years in the Middle East for their use as conventional bombers, so they’re not as reliable as they once were. They’re scheduled for full replacement soon. The newer model, the B-21 Raider, is a next-generation stealth bomber that has conventional and nuclear weapons capabilities.

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