A B-1B "Bone" Night Launch Is An Otherworldly Experience

Illustration for article titled A B-1B Bone Night Launch Is An Otherworldly Experience

I have stood alongside runways as B-1s blasted off for training missions and one phrase can describe it: Loud as f@#k. Four General Electric F101s in full blower pushing a big gas and bomb container along the runway is pretty outrageous, but that same thing at night is downright otherworldly.


During Red Flag training events at Nellis AFB, you will see more people parked along Nellis Air Force Base's perimeter after hours when the B-1s are in town for the exercise than when they are not. The big swing-wing jet's quartet of fire breathing engines is the draw. I have heard multiple people metaphorically refer to the experience as watching a real-life Millennium Falcon blast out into space and I have to say they are not embellishing much. If you are in a group, usually the response you hear right after the "B-1 earthquake" has dissipated is laughter, along with car alarms going off for miles.


There is a huge difference in how a loaded down B-1 performs while producing maximum thrust (about 124k lbs) and a fighter jet doing the same. The fighter will pull back power once they have achieved a positive rate of climb to conserve gas and to not cause air traffic control issues. In contrast, the B-1 doesn't seem to pick up much speed as it proceeds through its departure and those afterburners stay lit for as long as the eye can see.

The whole ordeal is a brilliant meld technology and burnt fuel:

It truly is an awesome experience that only one other aircraft in the world can provide, that being Russia's similar, but even larger and more powerful Tu-160 Blackjack bomber:


Now, as to how much fuel a B-1B burns on a departure, let me get back to you with an answer on that because I think it will be totally outrageous.


Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com

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I was a B-1 guy from 01-06, hell of a plane if you subtract it being possibly the most unreliable and maintenance intensive vehicle ever created by man. I had a lot of great memories from the B-1 community and the 9th Bomb Squadron... but I was happy as hell to go.

We shot this on the runway of DG, nearly fully fueled and loaded with JDAM's on the way to Iraq. Excuse the poor video quality... it was 03 I think, we had potatoes for cameras back then.