“Last Tuesday, we emptied three B-1s over Iraq and Syria — 80 targets in 20 minutes — that’s significant,” Hesterman said.
B-1s from the 28th Bomb Wing out of Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, home to 27 of the bombers, flew 490 sorties against ISIS in a six-month deployment that ended in January, according to a release from the bomb wing. They dropped 3,800 munitions on 3,700 targets, a base release says.
Brown said other U.S. and coalition aircraft would pick up the B-1s’ missions during the upgrades.
“We actually have plenty of capacity with other platforms,” he said. “We lose maybe a little flexibility. The B-1 is a workhorse. The fact that it can carry as many weapons as it can and stay airborne as long as it can, it does provide a great capability.”
Brown said the air campaign against ISIS will continue and the B-1s will likely be part of it again.
“They will be back, I fully expect,” he said.