A B-2 stealth bomber experienced a malfunction earlier this month, causing the U.S. Air Force to ground its entire B-2 fleet. For college football fans, this means there will be no B-2 flyovers at this year’s bowl games.
The aircraft in question was forced to make an emergency landing in Missouri at Whiteman Air Force Base following an in-flight malfunction on December 2, 2022. After landing, the plane caught fire, but no injuries were reported.
The B-2 took its first flight in 1989 and is described as “a key component of the nation’s long-range strike arsenal, and one of the most survivable aircraft in the world,” by Northrop Grumman, the manufacturer of the airplane. B-2 aircraft have been regularly deployed to the Indo-Pacific and Europe.
All 20 bombers in the Air Force fleet have been grounded. The 509th Bomb Wing spokeswoman Air Force Master Sgt. Beth Del Vecchio said that during the stand-down, the whole fleet will be inspected.
This year, the bomber was scheduled to fly over millions of fans at the 2023 Rose Bowl Parade and Game in Pasadena, but the 509th Bomb Wing said the B-1 Lancer will replace it.
This is not the first time an incident like this has occurred. Last year, another B-2 made an emergency landing at Whiteman after the hydraulic system failed, causing about $10 million in damage to the aircraft. The failed system resulted in the bomber’s left wing dragging for about a mile before the plane stopped.
The unique wing structure of B-2 stealth bombers is the basis of the design of a new aircraft. The B-21 Raider will eventually replace the B-2 and was introduced by the Pentagon earlier this month. It will be the first new American bomber aircraft in more than 30 years.
No further details regarding the incident at Whiteman Air Force Base have been made available. The Air Force is currently investigating.