A B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber ran off the runway at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri and went into the grass area bordering the runway. No one was injured in the crash, a high-altitude photo of which was making the rounds online late yesterday. Click through to see the photo.
The B-2 is the latest-generation operational U.S. bomber, and while we think of it as cutting edge, which it pretty much still is, it was dreamt up during the Carter administration. It first flew in 1989 and officially entered service in 1997, and first did combat service in the Kosovo War of 1999, where it performed beyond expectations. It has also been used in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It was extraordinarily expensive to develop and produce—each of the 21 Spirit bombers costs over $2 billion, based on program costs, with each flight hour around $135,000. The aircraft also need to be kept in large fully air-conditioned hangars in order to keep their low-observability (aka, stealth) qualities.
No word from the Air Force on what caused the runway departure, and based on the low transparency of the program associated with this high-transparency aircraft, we’re not expecting to hear a cause any time soon.