US Air Force B-2 Spirit

US Air Force loses yet another B-2 stealth bomber

Aircraft that had made an emergency landing in December 2022 will not be recovered. Fleet now has just 19 aircraft

The US Air Force (USAF) confirmed through a report in April that it will no longer recover a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber that crashed after an emergency landing in December 2022.

The aircraft reportedly suffered a fire after landing on December 10 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and its recovery would not be economically viable.

The 2022 accident blocked the air base’s runway and prompted the USAF to suspend flights with all B-2s for six months.

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The loss of the second B-2 Spirit reduces the nuclear attack aircraft’s fleet to just 19 jets. Northrop Grumman manufactured 21 bombers out of Plant 42 in California between the late 1980s and early 1990s.

In April the USAF executed a mass fly-off of 12 B-2 Spirit (USAF)

The Air Force took delivery of 20 of them while one B-2 remained as a prototype for testing. Later, Northrop also delivered this aircraft to the USAF.

With a unit price currently estimated at more than US$4 billion in current values, the B-2 is the most expensive plane in history, which makes its small fleet extremely valuable to the Pentagon.

USAF report about the divestiment of a B-2 bomber (@Figtherman_FFRC)

B-21 should only replace the B-2 at the end of the decade

To date, only one B-2 has been lost after it suffered an accident during takeoff from Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, in 2008.

The pilots managed to eject in time, but the aircraft was completely destroyed after catching fire.

In September 2021, a B-2 ran off the runway at Whiteman after the right landing gear collapsed. Despite this, the bomber was partially recovered to fly to Northrop Grumman and undergo a complete overhaul.

B-2 that had a runway excursion in September 2021 (Google Earth)

The divestment in yet another B-2 occurs amid the development of the B-21 Raider bomber, also stealthy and in the form of a flying wing.

The Northrop Grumman aircraft follows in the footsteps of the Spirit, being manufactured at Plant 42, but will have a much lower cost and a versatile configuration so that the USAF can count on at least a hundred of them.

The B-2 losted in 2008
The B-2 losted in 2008

The first test plane is currently at Edwards Air Force Base in California, after completing its first flight in November 2023.

The B-21 is expected to enter service by the end of the decade and until then, the remaining B-2s will remain essential for the United States.

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