One of the United States' premier aircraft crashed
yesterday in Guam. The B-2 Spirit bomber took off from Anderson Air Force Base
(AFB), but crashed shortly after -- thankfully, both pilots were able to eject
safely and are listed in good condition.
The downed B-2 Spirit was one of four stealth bombers that
were to leave Guam for Missouri after a four-month deployment. One other
stealth bomber took to the air before the crash, but was ordered to turn back
around and land at Anderson AFB. The three stealth aircraft remain
grounded in Guam.
The B-2 Spirit that crashed was unarmed and there were no
injuries on the ground or damage to buildings and support vehicles. The only
loss was of the $1.2 billion aircraft.
This was the first crash for an operational B-2 Spirit. It's
too early to speculate on a cause for the crash, but the Air Force is already
piecing together data to conduct its investigation.
The B-2 Spirit was first shown unveiled to the public in
1988 and made its maiden voyage on July 17, 1989. The first operational B-2,
the Spirit of Missouri, was delivered
to Whiteman AFB on December 17, 1993.
Since its introduction, the B-2 has seen combat service in
Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The B-2 Spirit was developed by Northrop
Grumman Corp. and is powered by four General Electric F-118-GE-100 engines
which provide 17,300 lbs of thrust each. The aircraft has a typical takeoff
weight of 336,500 pounds (payload of 40,000 pounds), a service ceiling of
50,000 feet, and a top speed in the "high subsonic" range.
There were 21 active B-2 bombers before the crash -- all
except the Spirit of Kitty Hawk and Fatal Beauty were named after U.S.