B-2 Spirit Bomber Involved in Runway Accident—and the Damage Is Unknown

© Paul Jarrett – PA Images – Getty Images The crash involved one of just twenty bombers in existence.

  • The accident took place at Whiteman Air Force Base Tuesday morning.
  • The aircraft departed the runway after an emergency landing.
  • The bomber sustained an unknown amount of damage.

A B-2 Spirit bomber rolled off the runway during an emergency landing earlier this week, triggering FAA Flight restrictions and an investigation by Air Force Global Strike Command.

The bomber, one of just twenty in existence, ended up in the grass just off the runway where it came to a stop. The pilot and copilot were reportedly unharmed during the incident.

➡ You love bad*** military planes. So do we. Let’s nerd out over it together.

The accident took place on September 14 at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. Whiteman is the home of the 509th Bomb Wing, one of only two units flying the B-2 Spirit bomber. According to Military.com, the B-2 “had an in-flight malfunction during a training mission” and made the emergency landing at 12:30 in the morning.

© Planet Labs. Inc. Satellite imagery captured by Planet Labs shows the B-2 where it came to rest, shortly after rolling off the runway.

Military.com also reported that the Air Force declined to describe any damage done to the aircraft, and quoted the head of public affairs for Global Strike Command as stating the investigation would likely wrap up before the normal 30 day investigation period.

The B-2 Spirit bomber is one of the rarest warplanes in the world. First unveiled in 1988, the bomber was meant to replace then Strategic Air Command’s fleet of B-52 heavy bombers. Cost overruns and the end of the Cold War cut the number of B-2s purchased from 132 to just 21. One B-2 crashed on the island of Guam in 2008, leaving 20 remaining.

It’s unclear how much damage, if any, the bomber involved in Tuesday’s accident sustained, but until the bat-winged craft is cleared for duty, the B-2 force will have to do with just 19 aircraft.

The B-2 is scheduled to be replaced in the late 2020s/early 2030s by the upcoming B-21 Raider bomber. Much of the details about the B-21 are classified, but the Air Force has confirmed it is a similar v-shaped, tailless design reportedly only two-thirds the size of the original B-2.

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