The US used the B-1B Lancer long-range bomber to strike Syria -- here's what it can do

US Air ForceB-1B Lancer.

The B-1B Lancer was one of many aircraft that the US, France, and UK used in Friday’s strike on Syrian government compounds.

The Lancer is a long-range, multi-role heavy bomber that dropped Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles, according to The Drive. This would be the first time the munition was used in combat.

The US has not divulged where the Lancers took off, but they may have left from al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, The Drive reported. Either way, the US released a picture of one of the B-1s being refueled by a KC-10 on the day of the strike.

Here’s what the Lancer can do and what we know it did on Friday:

The B-1B Lancer is a long-range, multi-role heavy bomber that was developed in the 1970s as a replacement for the B-52.

US Air Force

Source: US Air Force

It was first used in combat in 1998, and was heavily used in Operation Iraqi Freedom during the Iraq War, dropping nearly 40% of all the coalition’s munitions.

US Air ForceA Lancer at Andersen Air Force Base in July, 2017.

The Lancer, which is made by Boeing – one of the largest defence contractors and political donors in the US – will continue to be the backbone of the US strategic bomber force until about 2040.

Its four General Electric F101-GE-102 turbofan engines each provide the Lancer with more than 30,000 pounds of thrust.

US Air ForceA Lancer from the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron in South Dakota takes off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam in October, 2017.

Source: US Air Force

The Lancer can hit speeds of more than 900 mph and climb to heights of more than 30,000 feet.

US Air Force

Source: US Air Force

It’s also known by its nickname — “bone,” from “B-One.”

US Air Force/Staff Sgt. Peter ReftA U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer, assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., flies over the East China Sea, Jan. 9, 2018.

It has a four-person crew, including a commander, copilot, and two combat-systems officers.

US Air Force

In 2014, the bomber received an upgrade called the Integrated Battle Station, which includes a Vertical Situation Display that consists of four multifunctional colour displays. The displays, seen above, give pilots more situational-awareness data in a user-friendly format.

Source: US Air Force

The Lancer has an internal payload of 75,000 pounds — more than any other US bomber. And while the Lancer can’t carry nuclear weapons, it is capable of carrying a variety of bombs and missiles.

South Korean Defence Ministry via Getty

The Lancer can be armed with the following:

84 500-pound Mk-82 or 24 2,000-pound Mk-84 general purpose bombs.

Up to 84 500-pound Mk-62 or eight 2,000-pound Mk-65 Quick Strike naval mines.

30 cluster munitions (CBU-87, -89, -97) or 30 Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispensers (CBU-103, -104, -105).

Up to 24 2,000-pound GBU-31 or 15 500-pound GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions.

Up to 24 AGM-158A Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles.

15 GBU-54 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions.

Source: US Air Force

It’s unclear where the B-1Bs took off, but they might have taken off from al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

US Air ForceThe Lancer is refueled by a KC-10 over an undisclosed location on April 14, 2018. The aircraft were taking part in strikes against Syrian targets in response to the use of chemical weapons.

Source: The Drive

Here’s one Lancer and its crew before the strike.

The Lancers struck Assad’s compounds with Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles, which have a range of 500 miles.

Lockheed MartinA JASSM being released from what looks to be a Lancer.

Source: Business Insider

It was the first time JASSMs were used in combat, and The Drive’s Tyler Rogaway was able to get a photo of the munitions seen below.

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