ARLINGTON, Va — An Air Force B-1B bomber caught fire Friday night while taxiing after landing at Al Udeid Air Force base in Qatar, according to Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Blass.

The crew evacuated the aircraft and is safe, and the fire was contained, according to a statement issued by the Air Force Combined Air and Space Operations Center Southwest Asia on Friday.

The $280 million aircraft flies with a crew of four.

Al Udeid Air Base is the headquarters of all American air operations in the Middle East.

The Air Force has appointed a board of inquiry and will investigate the incident, Blass said.

Originally intended as a replacement for the venerable B-52 Stratofortress, the first long-range, supersonic B-1B Lancer was declared operational at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas, in 1986.

The 100th and final B-1B was delivered to the Air Force in 1988, and by 2000, there were 93 left in the inventory.

The Air Force decided to retire 33 of the B-1B fleet in 2003, but returned seven of the bombers to service the following year, leaving the Air Force with 67 aircraft (the rest were cannibalized for spare parts).

Thanks to its high-speed strike and large payload capacity, the “Bone,” (B-one) as the B-1B is usually called by its crews, has proved very useful in a close air-support role in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

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