Andersen, Tinker rebuild B-1

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. John Stemple
In September 2005 a B-1B Lancer from Ellsworth AFB, S.D., landed at Andersen and burst into flames while taxiing off the runway. 

The brakes on the right main landing gear failed, causing a catastrophic fire resulting in damage to the right wing, nacelle, structure and landing gear before being extinguished by the Andersen Fire Department.

Two years later, after months of planning, the damaged B-1B is being rebuilt and set to fly from Guam to Tinker AFB, Okla., for completion of its repairs. The aircraft will then be returned to fully mission capable status and ready for combat.

The wing, nacelle and landing gear parts were removed from "donor" B-1s that have been retired to AMARC (aircraft maintenance and regeneration center), or better known as the "Bone Yard," at Davis Monthan AFB, Ariz. Inactive aircraft are parked there for future use or to recycle their parts.

After the parts were removed they had to be shipped from Arizona by "wide load" trucks to California, and then placed on a ship for their two month journey to Guam.

The new problem, due to their size, was how to move the parts from Guam's commercial sea port to Andersen. Martin Weathers from GS-21 Transportation Management Office devised a plan to move all the parts late at night while the traffic would be light. He also had bucket trucks follow the convoy from the port to Andersen to move power and phone lines out of the way if needed. All went as planned with no problems.

Later during the rebuilding process, crane support was required to move the wing on to its installation platform known as the "cradle." Technical Sergeants Todd Reeves and Kristopher Jones, both from 554th RED HORSE Squadron, supplied and operated their crane which moved the wing into place without causing any damage to the delicate structure.

Another challenge was that some of the tools required to repair the aircraft on Andersen were in use repairing another B-1B which was involved in an accident at Diego Garcia. As soon as the B-1B at Diego Garcia was repaired and flown back to the states, the tools were shipped via a C-5 Galaxy to Guam. Altogether, 50,000 pounds of tools and equipment were shipped to Guam.

The Tinker repair team is lead by Roger Walker. He and his team retrieved the parts at Davis Monthan and are installing them here at Andersen. This will be the first time a wing has been replaced on a flyable B-1B in field conditions.

Maintenance support is being provided by the 36th Maintenance Squadron to include sheet metal, machine and electric shop. They also are providing aircraft ground support equipment and bomber crew chiefs.

The first flight will be in the summer of 2008.

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