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B-2 stealth bomber returns to skies after 5 month ‘safety pause’

Posted at 4:19 PM, May 19, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Air Force Global Strike Command announced Thursday the return to the skies of the country’s B-2 stealth bomber fleet after a five-month safety pause.

Officials the bombers, which are based at Whiteman Air Force Base in mid-Missouri, are set to return missions on Monday, May 22.

The grounding of the fleet came after a B-2 suffered an “in-flight malfunction” that ended in an emergency landing at Whiteman, where it caught fire. No injuries were reported in the Dec. 10, 2022 incident.

The 20-plane fleet was grounded to allow inspection of the aircraft. In addition to being out of service for military missions during the last five months, the aircraft was unable to complete flyover missions at various sporting events.

“Throughout the fleet safety pause, our ability to execute our mission was never at risk,” Air Force Global Strike Command Commander Gen. Thomas A. Bussiere said. “The B-2 fleet could still fly missions on the orders of ht ePresident of the United States or in support of the National Command Authority.”

Bussiere says the Air Force “erred on the side of prudence and caution” in grounding the fleet. During the grounding, the Air Force was able to “assess any possible safety-of-flight issues,” and that “all necessary actions” to return the fleet to full flight operations were “successfully accomplished.”

“While the B-2 fleet safety pause is officially over, our ability to deliver nuclear deterrence and provide long-range strike was never in doubt,” Bussiere said.

The B-2 stealth bomber took its first flight in 1989 and its flying-wing design formed the base of its eventual replacement, the B-21 Raider, which was introduced late last year. The B-21 is scheduled to make its first flight sometime in 2023.

In Sept. 2021 another B-2 at Whiteman had to make an emergency landing after the hydraulics system failed, resulting in the bomber's landing gear collapsing. The bomber's left wing dragged for about a mile before the aircraft came to a halt, resulting in at least $10 million in damage to the aircraft.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.