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Tue, Dec 13, 2022

B-2 Bomber Makes Emergency Landing, Catches Fire

Similarities to 2021 Accident Cited

A B-2 Spirit—colloquially Stealth—bomber of the United States Air Force’s 509th Bomb Wing suffered damage on Saturday, 10 December 2022, when an in-flight malfunction forced the aircraft’s crew to make an emergency landing at Missouris’ Whiteman Air Force Base—the 509th’s home.

Photos from the scene reveal the bomber on the runway—more or less—with its portside wing conspicuously low—after the fashion of a main-landing-gear collapse, a departure from the runway, or both.

Base firefighters extinguished a post-landing fire.

In a public statement, the 509th Bomb Wing set forth: “A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit experienced an in-flight malfunction during routine operations today and was damaged on the runway at Whiteman Air Force Base after it successfully completed an emergency landing.”

509th Bomb Wing spokesperson Staff Sergeant Alexandria Lee confirmed the bomber’s two pilots walked away from the incident unhurt.

Missouri’s Whiteman AFB is home to both the Air Force’s 509th Bomb Wing and the Air National Guard’s 131st Bomb Wing—both of which operate the enigmatic B-2 Spirit tactical bomber.

Air Force officials have yet to release detailed information pertaining to the cause of Saturday’s emergency landing and subsequent fire, and the extent to which the $2-billion aircraft was damaged.

The incident is under investigation.

The mishap is eerily evocative of a September 2021 accident in which a B-2 dubbed Spirit of Georgia made an emergency landing at Whiteman AFB, departed the runway, and came to rest on its port side. The occurrence was later attributed to faulty landing gear springs and microscopic cracks in key hydraulic connections. The bomber’s landing-gear lock link springs—which were determined to have not been replaced in at least a decade—demonstrated approximately 11% less tension than their design specifications. The weakened springs in conjunction with the disconnection of a hydraulic tube resulted in the collapse of the B-2’s landing-gear assembly upon touchdown. The accident’s total cost has yet to be determined, but has already exceeded $10.1-million.

FMI: www.af.mil


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