A B-2 Spirit bomber crashed on the runway at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, after the aircraft malfunctioned during a routine training flight in the middle of the night on Tuesday, the Air Force has confirmed.
The stealth bomber was damaged in the emergency landing around 12:30 a.m. on Sept. 14, though the extent of the damage has not been disclosed. No one was injured in the crash and there was no fire onboard, Air Force Global Strike Command spokesperson Jennifer Greene said Sept. 15.
Two airmen, a pilot and a mission commander, can ride in the B-2. Greene did not answer how many people were inside the bomber by press time. The Air Force’s fleet of 20 Spirit bombers can fire both conventional and nuclear weapons in combat, but was not carrying weapons when it crashed, she said.
Greene declined to answer other questions about the incident, such as what the in-flight malfunction entailed, as the Air Force investigates the mishap.
The War Zone reported Wednesday that the B-2 may have “experienced a hydraulic failure in flight and had its port main landing gear collapse during landing, sending it off the runway with its wing dug into the ground.” Satellite imagery provided to Air Force Times by Planet Labs showed the bomber resting on the grass next to the pavement.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice banning aircraft from flying within 6 miles of Whiteman between Sept. 14-17 to “provide a safe environment for accident investigation,” citing hazards in the area.
B-2 mishaps are rare: The most recent recorded incident was in fiscal 2015, according to the Air Force Safety Center, preceded by a fire that heavily damaged one bomber in 2010. One B-2 was destroyed in a crash upon takeoff in Guam in 2008.
Whiteman has served as the only B-2 home base since the 1990s. Each airframe cost $1.2 billion as they entered regular operations in 1998, according to the Air Force. The service plans to retire the fleet in the next 10 years to make way for the more-advanced B-21 Raider now in production.
Rachel Cohen is the editor of Air Force Times. She joined the publication as its senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), Air and Space Forces Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy and elsewhere.