B-1s and C-130s together in Central Texas
Dyess AFB is situated in the center of Texas, just Southwest of the city of Abilene. It was established in 1942 as Abilene Army Air Base (AAB) and already declared inactive at the end of World War II. On 15 April 1956 the base reopened as Abilene Air Force Base and was renamed in Dyess AFB in honor of the late Lt Col William E. Dyess on 1 December 1956.
Although USAF had been looking for a new bomber since the sixties, the first B-1A prototype (Air Force serial no. 74-0158) flew not earlier than 23 December 1974. Three more B-1A prototypes followed. As the program continued the per-unit cost continued to rise, in part because of high inflation during that period of time. In 1970, the estimated unit cost was $ 40 million, and by 1975, this figure had climbed to $70 million. During the seventies, the B-1 program was highly questioned, which was one of the reasons that it took until January 1982 for USAF to sign a contract for the production of 100 B-1 bombers.
The first production B-1B flew on 18 October 1984. The 100th and final B-1B was delivered on 2 May 1988. Nowadays, the 60 B-1Bs that are still in use with the U.S. Air Force are divided over the two operational B-1 Bomb Wings. The 28th BW with the 34th and 37th BS at Ellsworth, South Dakota (‘EL’ tail code) and the 7th BW with the 9th and the 28th BS at Dyess AFB (‘DY’ tail code). The 77th WPS at Dyess AFB provides weapons training to B-1 Bomb Squadrons at Dyess AFB and Ellsworth AFB. Their B-1s wear the ‘WA’ tail code.
Not only the B-1s use Dyess’s infrastructure. The North side of the immense platform at the air base is shared with the C-130Js of the 317th Airlift Wing. The 317th AW is the largest C-130J wing of the world. No less than 28 C-130Js are assigned to this base. The Texas flag is a distinct feature on the tail of the Dyess’ C-130s, that operate both at home and overseas supporting the United States and its allies and supporting the people of the United States in humanitarian efforts.