US Air Forces $80m stealth bomber crash lands after in-flight malfunction

One of the US Air Force’s B2 Spirit stealth bombers “malfunctioned” in flight and crashed off the runway of Whiteman Air Force Base in the early hours of Tuesday, September 14.

The $80 million bomber – one of just 20 in existence – managed to make it back to its home base in Missouri but skidded off the runway and ended up with a section of its delta wing speared into a grass verge. The USAF has not released details of the damage to the ultra high-tech aircraft.

The crew are understood to be uninjured.

Images of the crashed plane show that ground crews quickly covered up the Spirit’s air intakes and exhausts as soon as it was stationary.

According to a report in The Drive, the plane suffered a mid-flight hydraulic failure in flight which led to a collapse of its main landing gear on landing.

A statement from US Air Force Global Strike Command read: “A U.S. Air Force B2 Spirit experienced [an] in-flight malfunction during a routine training mission and was damaged on the runway at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, after an emergency landing.

“There were no personnel injuries and no fire associated with the landing. The incident is under investigation and more information will be provided as it becomes available.”

The B2 Spirit achieves its near-invisibility to radar with a combination of unique aircraft design and a secret radar-absorbent paint which is highly toxic – making it a particularly tricky aircraft to recover from a crash.

The delicate internal structure of the plane’s giant single wing is particularly susceptible to the stresses caused by a landing gear collapse.

Only 21 of these incredible aircraft were ever built, with one being lost in 2008 due to an accident on take-off.

As well as being expensive to build, its operational costs are also immense, costing in the region of $122,000 [£88,000] for every hour it’s in flight.

The B2 is expected to be replaced by the even more advanced B21 Raider, which is expected to enter service no later than 2027.

It’s not clear what the USAF will do with its hard-to-maintain B2 fleet when taht happens: “At this time it is too early in the process to discuss the future disposition of the B-2,” Linda Frost, a spokesperson for Air Force Global Strike Command told The War Zone.

“It’s too premature to publicly release anything [about any retirement plans] at this time.”

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