One of the 509th Bomb Wing’s B-2 Spirit stealth bombers was forced to make an emergency landing at Whiteman Air Force Base today. Photos from the scene show the bomber on the runway, one wing in the dirt following a wing catching fire.
Whiteman Air Force Base confirmed the incident and said that there were no personnel injuries tied to the landing or the fire. The cause of the emergency landing was an unspecified malfunction.
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“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,” the 509th Bomb Wing said in a statement to Task & Purpose.
According to the wing, the B-2 caught fire after landing, which was extinguished by Whiteman AFB’s fire department. Whiteman AFB in Missouri is home to both the Air Force’s 509th Bomb Wing and the Air National Guard’s 131st Bomb Wing, which both operate the B-2 Spirit.
The malfunction and emergency landing happened only a month after an “elephant walk” at Whiteman AFB, where eight B-2 Spirits were lined up along the airstrip before taking off on Nov. 7. It was part of the “Spirit Vigilance 22” exercise the base put on. That, and today’s emergency landing, are notable as there are only 20 B2s in the Air Force’s fleet. Any issue with a single one of the stealth bombers has an outsized impact on the Air Force’s capabilities.
Today’s malfunction and emergency landing are under investigation. The exact nature of the damage to the B-2 Spirit has not been released.
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