Fleet Remains On 'Safety Pause' As Investigation Continues
US Air Force investigators say the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber
that crashed on takeoff this weekend in Guam had a fire onboard,
according to industry reports.
Citing an unnamed senior Air Combat Command official, a trade
publication states one of the aircraft's pilots reported a onboard
fire, according to The Air Force Times. The aircraft then rolled
uncontrollably to the right, and impacted the ground at Anderson
Air Force Base.
As ANN reported, both pilots
were able to eject from the stricken bomber, moments before the
aircraft crashed between the ramp and a taxiway on the base at 1045
local time Saturday morning. One of those pilots is still
hospitalized, undergoing treatment in a Hawaii hospital for spinal
compression, said Pacific Air Force command spokesman Tech. Sgt.
Meanwhile, investigators continue to look into what led
circumstances led to the first-ever downing of a B-2. On Monday,
USAF officials declared a "safety pause" in further B-2 operations,
in effect until a cause can be determined.
The Spirit fleet is not grounded, said 1st Lt. Matt Miller,
spokesman for the 509th Bomb Wing which operates the B-2s. In case
of an urgent mission, a B-2 would be made operationally
"A safety pause is the most prudent thing to do after something
like this," he said.
The aircraft that crashed was the "Spirit of Kansas," one of 21
Spirit bombers in the USAF fleet. The accident aircraft, production
number 89-0127, was first delivered to the Air Force in
The aircraft had 5,100 hours on its airframe, Miller said, and
was one of four scheduled to return home to Whiteman Air Force Base
in Missouri after a four-month deployment in Guam.
Until the pause is lifted, the three remaining Spirits on Guam
will stay on the ground. A special deployment of six B-52s from the
96th Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, LA, will handle patrol
duties in the Asia-Pacific region in place of the Spirits.