B-2 bomber crashes in Missouri after in-flight malfunction; no one injured, US
A B-2 Spirit bomber, one of only 20 in existence, crashed on the runway at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, after the aircraft malfunctioned during a routine training flight in the middle of the night on Tuesday, the Air Force has confirmed. The stealth bomber was damaged in the emergency landing around 12h30am on 14 September 2021, though the extent of the damage has not been disclosed. No one was injured in the crash and there was no fire onboard, Air Force Global Strike Command spokesperson Jennifer Greene said. Two airmen, a pilot and a mission commander, can ride in the B-2. Greene did not answer how many people were inside the bomber by press time.
The US Air Force’s fleet of 20 Spirit bombers can fire both conventional and nuclear weapons in combat but was not carrying weapons when it crashed, she said.
Greene declined to answer other questions about the incident, such as what the in-flight malfunction entailed, as the US Air Force investigates the mishap.
The War Zone reported that the B-2 may have “experienced a hydraulic failure in flight and had its port main landing gear collapse during landing, sending it off the runway with its wing dug into the ground.” Satellite imagery provided to Air Force Times by Planet Labs showed the bomber resting on the grass next to the pavement.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice banning aircraft from flying within six miles of Whiteman between 14 and 17 September 2021 to “provide a safe environment for accident investigation,” citing hazards in the area.
There are just 20 of these aircraft in existence out of 21 ever produced. One was lost on departure from Guam in 2008. Another was badly damaged due to a ground fire two years later but was later returned to service after extensive and very costly repairs. The aircraft is known to be very demanding in terms of maintenance requirements; they are the most expensive weapons-carrying aircraft in the inventory to fly. While there have been other close calls before, the fleet, which is almost experimental in nature due to its tiny size, is kept in top condition thanks to the very dedicated team of US Air Force and industry personnel.
B-2 mishaps are rare: The most recent recorded incident was in fiscal 2015, according to the Air Force Safety Centre, preceded by a fire that heavily damaged one bomber in 2010. One B-2 was destroyed in a crash upon take-off in Guam in 2008.
Whiteman has served as the only B-2 home base since the 1990s. Each airframe cost $1,2 billion as they entered regular operations in 1998, according to the Air Force. The service plans to retire the fleet in the next 10 years to make way for the more-advanced B-21 Raider now in production.
Source: Air Force Times