Crew unscathed after Air Force stealth bomber’s emergency landing results in fire
Stars and Stripes December 12, 2022
An emergency landing over the weekend by an Air Force B-2 Spirit stealth bomber resulted in a fire and unspecified damage to the plane, but the crew walked away unharmed, service officials said.
The mishap occurred Saturday during a routine flight at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.
The plane “experienced an in-flight malfunction” and was damaged on the runway after it landed, a spokeswoman for the 509th Bomb Wing said in an email to Stars and Stripes on Monday.
Wing officials did not discuss the extent of the fire or damage to the aircraft. An investigation is ongoing.
The active-duty 509th Bomb Wing and the Air National Guard’s 131st Bomb Wing operate a fleet of 20 B-2 Spirits at Whiteman, which is 45 miles east of Kansas City.
A blurry photo of the accident first posted to the popular Amn/NCO/SNCO Facebook page Saturday and was verified the same day by the 509th Bomb Wing in a message to The War Zone news site.
Air Force Global Strike Command released pictures of a rare B-2 Spirit “elephant walk,” with eight of the bombers taxiing down the flight line at Whiteman on Nov. 7, displaying 40% of its aging stealth bomber fleet.
Given their limited numbers, taking a B-2 off the active flight roster can have an outsized impact on mission requirements.
The last significant B-2 emergency landing took place Sept. 14, 2021, when the Spirit of Georgia skidded off the runway during an emergency landing, causing an estimated $10.1 million in damage.
An accident investigation board later cleared pilots of wrongdoing and reported that old springs were found to have caused a collapse of the landing gear.
A year after the episode, the plane was provisionally repaired and flown to the Air Force’s Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif., for in-depth restoration.
Earlier this month, the Air Force presented the first prototype of its new bomber, the B-21 Raider.
The Air Force plans to order 100 B-21s to replace older bombers, which would create a larger fleet than the combined B-1B Lancers and B-2s in the Air Force’s current arsenal.