Breaking: US military indefinitely grounds B-1 bomber fleet over fuel system problem
The US Air Force has grounded its B-1B Lancer bomber fleet for the third time in three years, this time over a fuel system issue.
According to Press TV quoting a command statement, Gen. Tim Ray, Head of Air Force Global Strike Command, on Tuesday ordered an indefinite safety stand-down to conduct maintenance inspections on the fuel filter housing.
“During the inspection process following a B-1B ground emergency on April 8 at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, a discrepancy with an Augmenter Fuel Pump Filter Housing was discovered,” Global Strike Command said Friday.
The Ellsworth-based B-1 began leaking fuel on the ground while taxiing to its parking area after landing, a command spokesperson told Military.com.
“As a precautionary measure, the commander directed one-time inspections on all B-1B aircraft to resolve this issue,” the statement added. “After further analysis, the commander stood down the fleet because it was determined a more invasive inspection was needed to ensure the safety of aircrews.”
Each aircraft will return to flight status when it is deemed safe, according to the statement. The command did not provide a timeline when all the bombers will return to normal operations; it is unknown how many might be affected by the fuel filter housing issue.
“There is zero operational impact providing bomber task force support to combatant commands across the globe,” the spokesperson said. “Air Force Global Strike bombers will continue to support anytime, anywhere if called upon.”
The inspection process will involve “disassembly of the Augmenter Fuel Pump Filter Housing and inspection using the latest X-ray and blue light techniques,” the spokesperson said. “After it has been determined that the unit is free of defects, it will be reassembled, pressure checked, and returned to service.”