This epic Cold War photo has a lot going on, from the experimental desert camo livery of the Rockwell B-1 bomber to the dark Northwest Europe three-color scheme on the General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark chase plane.
Official caption: “A left side view of a B-1 bomber aircraft, being followed by an FB-111 aircraft, over the base range during testing and evaluation, Edwards Air Force Base, 3/27/1981.”
A closer look at the B-1 shows it to have a distinctive raised spine across the top of the airframe. This easily identifies it as Prototype Number 4 (SN 76-0174) whose spine housed test electronics. The last B-1A built as the Carter administration (“The B-1 bomber is an example of a proposed system which should not be funded and would be wasteful of taxpayers’ dollars”) canceled the high-performance strategic bomber, 76-0174 had its first flight in February 1979 then went on to spend most of its career as an avionics testbed for rebooted B-1B program.
Here’s another view taken seven months later, as the B-1A program had run out of money by April 1981 then was brought back out of storage by the Reagan administration.
Official caption: “Left side view of a B-1 bomber (front) and an F-111 aircraft in flight. The B-1 is more than twice the length of the F-111, 8/1/1982”
By 1986, 76-0174 had been delivered to the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright Field and soon picked up an operational green/gray camo scheme worn by B-1Bs, then an all-white full-color test program livery, before going back to camo. She is currently on display at the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum near Ashland, Nebraska, where it has been since 2003.