TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
The sight of a B-1B Lancer aircraft rolling down the runway at Tinker Air Force Base is a pretty common sight. Seeing one rolling down Patrol Road is quite another.
Aircraft 86-109, “Spectre,” left the flight line for the last time April 10, 2021, as it was retired and towed to an Aircraft Battle Damage Repair training pad at the 76th Maintenance Group’s Expeditionary Depot Maintenance Flight on the south side of the base.
First Lt. Mason Shaw, EDMX commander, said the move required many coordinating parties including the Navy’s Strategic Communication Wing ONE, B-1 Systems Program Office, 72nd Security Forces Squadron, Public Affairs, Oklahoma Gas & Electric, the 567th and 569th Aircraft Maintenance Squadrons, Civil Engineering, Alutiiq and 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group Engineering.
“We want to extend our gratitude to all of our Tinker partners who made this a successful operation, especially Jonathan Harkness, who led the effort,” he said.
The Lancer joins two other aircraft serving as maintenance trainers: a B-52 Stratofortress and a C-135 Stratolifter, “Speckled Trout,” which has the same airframe as the KC-135 Stratotanker.
“This aircraft will be important to train for advanced repair techniques and as an engineering test aid for form, fit, and function of future modifications and structural repairs,” said Col Greg Lowe, 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group commander.
Preparing the B-1B for its retirement job required removing the engines, certain avionics and other equipment not essential for its new mission.
For the aircraft to safely leave the flight line and travel to its new home, two temporary gravel ramps were constructed. A number of road signs, poles and a power line had to be temporarily removed to give the aircraft an unobstructed path.
The B-1B’s signature swing wings were kept in their swept position to keep the aircraft’s footprint as narrow as possible. Two counterweights were suspended from the forward section of the aircraft, each weighing 2,640 pounds.
The half-mile trip lasted approximately 20 minutes. The following Monday, “Spectre’s” wings were manually brought forward one at a time using only a cordless drill, which took about 5 minutes per wing. In flight, moving both wings would have taken about 10 seconds.
“Spectre” had an unlikely path to its new home. After recording 12,136 flying hours, it suffered an in-flight fire in 2018, diverting to Midland International Airport near Odessa, Texas. The aircraft was flown to Tinker by the 10th Flight Test Squadron, with only three operable engines, for a depot-level repair of the fire damage.
“The artisans of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex repaired the damaged nacelle, replaced the ejection system, and performed both the Integrated Battle Station modification and a full Programed Depot Maintenance overhaul,” Lowe said. “Despite all of the work, the aircraft was selected for retirement, but it will be a welcome addition to the ABDR program.”
Part of the 76th AMXG, the Expeditionary Depot Maintenance flight is responsible for maintaining the Air Force’s sole source for ABDR rapid repair capabilities for the entire tanker and bomber fleets.