B-1B “Watchman” goes on a road trip

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Mason Shaw
  • 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group

Drivers may have experienced traffic delays June 4-5 as a B-1 aircraft fuselage traveled down the road.

The move was a culmination of several month’s effort by the B-1 Program Office, 567th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and the 76th Expeditionary Maintenance Flight, as the disassembled 86-101 “Watchman” fuselage made its final journey to its new home at the Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research in Wichita, Kansas.

The NIAR team will use this fuselage for 3D inspections for cracks and corrosion in an effort to push the service life of the fleet to 2030 and beyond.

The B-1 fuselage used a specially designed truck for the 165 mile trip from Tinker Air Force Base to the NIAR facility. This was a two day journey as the size limited the route the truck could take.

EDMX collaborated with multiple partners in the B-1 Program Office and the 567th AMXS to remove save list items to resupply the B-1 fleet, which included the stabilizers, wings, engines, nacelles, and landing gear.

In the end, all that was left was the fuselage. The endeavor was completed in just six weeks, taking the B-1 from a fully functional jet to a fuselage loaded on the back of a truck.

This was only the second time in Air Force history that the wings of a B-1 were removed. The first occurred at Davis-Monthan AFB, when the EDMX team previously sent components to NIAR in an effort to scan and test the structural components of the B-1.

EDMX and the 567th AMXS have been busy with demilitarizations this year, with three completed and two more still to come in Fiscal Year 2021. This new workload coincides with the retirement of 17 aircraft across the B-1 fleet.

The scanning and investigation of the “Watchman” fuselage will be paramount in the continued sustainment of the B-1 Fleet.