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Air Force grounds B-1B bombers

The Air Force grounded its fleet of B-1B Lancer bombers Thursday because of concerns with its ejection seat, Global Strike Command said in a statement.

Air Force leaders discovered an issue with the ejection seat components during an emergency landing of a B-1 in Midland, Texas, which led to the safety stand down, the command said in a statement.

Photos of the May 1 incident showed at least one of the four escape hatches blew, but one of the ejection seats did not launch, Military Times reported. Four crewmen landed safely.

RELATED: B-1 bombers to streak across Dayton skies

The Air Force has not said when the supersonic, swing-wing jets may return to flight. The bombers carry the largest conventional payload compared to the B-52 Stratofortress and B-2 Spirit bomber fleet.

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Global Strike Command has not set a date for the B-1 to return to operations.

“It’s too soon to determine a definitive timeline,” said Louella DeLee, a command spokesperson. “Returning the B1-B Lancers to operation is a top priority.”

The jets are based at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.; Tinker AFB, Okla.; Nellis AFB, Nev.; Edwards AFB, Calif.; and Dyess AFB, Texas, and routinely fly missions around the world.

A safety investigation to prevent future mishaps is ongoing, the Air Force said.

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