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Sat, Feb 23, 2008

B-2 Spirit Down In Guam, Pilots Safe

First-Ever Loss Of Stealth Bomber

ANN REALTIME REPORTING 02.23.08 0100 EST: Two US Air Force pilots are safe after ejecting from their B-2 Spirit bomber shortly after takeoff in Guam Saturday morning.

The Associated Press reports black smoke billowed from the wreckage of the stricken aircraft. The stealth bomber crashed on the grounds of Anderson Air Force Base, according to witness Geanne Ward.

"Everybody was on their cell phones, and the first thing everyone wanted to know was did the pilots make it out in time," she said. Both pilots are with the 509th Bomb Wing, according to a press release from Pacific Air Command public affairs at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.

The accident is the first involving a B-2. The 21 Spirit bombers in the Air Force fleet are based at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, but the Air Force has rotated several aircraft -- including B-1 Lancers, B-52 Statrofortresses, and the B-2s -- through Guam since 2004, according to media reports, in an effort to bolster the US presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

A board of officers will investigate the accident.

Each B-2 carries a $1.2 billion pricetag, making the flying-wing bombers the most expensive aircraft in the USAF arsenal. The first B-2, the "Spirit of Missouri," entered service December 17, 1993.

FMI: www.af.mil

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