National Security: All B-2 Stealth Bombers Grounded

( – The entire fleet of B-2 stealth bombers of the US Air Force has been grounded indefinitely after a malfunction incident earlier this month that forced one of the warplanes to make an emergency landing, during which it caught fire.

The incident on December 10 led to the closure of the single runway in the B-2 bombers’ home base, the Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, meaning that the strategic aircraft would not do flyovers at this year’s college bowl games.

The fire the B-2 stealth bomber experienced during the emergency landing was put out without any injuries, Newsmax reported.

Manufacturer Northrop Grumman has ever produced only 21 B-2 bombers. The active B-2 fleet of the US Air Force has fewer than 20 warplanes.

The report noted the “standdown is significant” since the B-2 bombers, together with the B-52 Stratofortress bombers, make up the air force leg of America’s nuclear triad. The other two elements are intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

The US has regularly deployed B-2 bombers to Europe and the Indo-Pacific as a show of force. The standdown will see the entire fleet inspected, according to Master Sgt. Beth Del Vecchio, the spokeswoman of the 509th Bomb Wing.

“At this time, there is no speculated end date for the safety pause. Every incident is unique, and we are currently evaluating what went wrong and how we can mitigate future risk. We will resume normal operations once a safety investigation has been concluded,” Del Vecchio told Defense One.

The B-2 was supposed to fly over the 2023 Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game. However, the 509th Bomb Wing said it would now be replaced by B-1 Lancer planes.

“Our No. 1 concern is the safety and security of our personnel and fleet,” said Col. Daniel Diehl, the 509th bomber wing’s commander.

“Although we are not participating in this flyover, we remain steadfast in our commitment to answer our nation’s call,” he added.

The B-2 is the only stealthy nuclear-capable heavy bomber of the US Air Force. Its fleet of older B-52 bombers consists of several dozen planes.

The B-2’s replacement, the B-21 Raider, was introduced this month and is expected to make its first flight in 2023.

Earlier this year, there was another case in which a B-2 bomber made an emergency landing at Whitman after the plane’s hydraulics system failed, and its landing gear collapsed.

As a result, the aircraft’s left wing dragged for a mile before it stopped. The plane suffered $10 million worth of damage.