Following an emergency landing and fire earlier this month, the Air Force grounded the whole fleet of B-2 stealth bombers, and none of the strategic aircraft will fly over this year’s collegiate bowl games.
On December 10, a bomber had an in-flight problem that required an emergency landing at Whiteman Air Force Base in St. Louis, Missouri.
During the landing, the bomber caught fire. There were no injuries, and the fire was put out.
Less than 20 stealth bombers make up the whole fleet, and together with the B-52 Stratofortress, they form the air leg of the country’s nuclear triad.
This makes the standdown significant.
The B-2 has frequently been sent as a show of force to the Indo-Pacific and, more recently, to Europe. According to Air Force Master Sgt. Beth Del Vecchio, a spokesperson for the 509th Bomb Wing, will inspect the whole fleet during the standdown.
The B-1 Lancer will now fly over the 2023 Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game in place of the B-2, according to a statement from the 509th Bomb Wing.
The B-2 stealth bomber made its first flight in 1989, and this month saw the introduction of the B-21 Raider, which will eventually replace it. The B-21 is expected to fly for the first time in 2019.
Another B-2 at Whiteman had to do an emergency landing in September 2021 because the hydraulics system failed, causing the bomber’s landing gear to collapse.
Before the bomber stopped, the left-wing trailed for approximately a mile, causing the aircraft to sustain damage worth at least $10 million.