WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The U.S. Air Force has grounded its entire B-2 stealth bomber fleet after one of the aircraft caught fire during an emergency landing on Dec. 10.
- The entire fleet will be inspected so there will be no aircraft to perform flyovers at the college bowl games this year.
- There are fewer than 20 stealth bombers in the entire fleet.
The U.S. Air Force has grounded an entire fleet of B-2 stealth bombers after one of its aircraft caught fire during an emergency landing earlier this month. The B-2s will not perform flyovers at college bowl games this year.
On Dec. 10, the bomber had an in-flight malfunction, prompting its pilot to make an emergency landing at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. It caught fire while making the emergency landing. No one was reported hurt and the fire was extinguished immediately.
Grounding the entire fleet is significant because there are fewer than 20 stealth bombers in the entire fleet and the aircraft provides, along with the B-52 Stratofortress, the air leg of the country’s nuclear triad. The B-2 has been regularly deployed to the Indo-Pacific. The aircraft was also recently flown to Europe as a show of force. The entire B-2 fleet will undergo thorough inspection during the standdown, 509th Bomb Wing spokeswoman Air Force Master Sgt. Beth Del Vecchio said.
In a statement, the 509th Bomb Wing said the B-1 Lancer will replace the B-2 in the 2023 Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game.
It was in 1989 when the B-2 stealth bomber made its first flight. Its flying-wing design formed the base of its replacement, the B-21 Raider, which was introduced earlier this month and set to take its first flight next year.
Another B-2 at Whiteman had to do an emergency landing in September 2021 after its hydraulics system failed. This resulted in the collapse of the bomber’s landing gear. The B-2’s left wing dragged for about a mile causing damage of at least $10 million to the aircraft.