B-2 Stealth Bomber Makes Emergency Landing in Colorado; Crew Safe

A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., flies overhead after returning from a local training mission at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Jan. 12, 2017. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Jazmin Smith)
A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., flies overhead after returning from a local training mission at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Jan. 12, 2017. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Jazmin Smith)

A U.S. Air Force stealth bomber experienced an in-flight emergency Tuesday, causing the crew to execute an unscheduled landing.

The nuclear-capable B-2 Spirit, assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, made an emergency landing in Colorado Springs en route to Whiteman, officials said in a release.

"Two pilots were on board and both aviators are unharmed," the release said. "The exact cause of the in-flight emergency is under investigation."

Officials did not disclose where the bomber was coming from or whether it was on a routine flight.

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"Our aviators are extremely skilled; they're trained to handle a wide variety of in-flight emergencies in one of the world's most advanced aircraft and they perfectly demonstrated that today," said Brig. Gen. John J. Nichols, 509th Bomb Wing Commander.

Local media reported the bomber landed at Colorado Springs Airport and was met by emergency responders from the 21st Space Wing, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.

The Spirit last month wrapped up the platform's first-ever rotation to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. During the rotation, it executed missions with the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter, giving pilots a sense of how the two aircraft would pair in a high-threat environment, according to the Air Force.

So far this year, the Air Force has had a range of aircraft problems, including flightline emergencies, paused operations at bases, emergency landings and even stand-downs of entire fleets.

For the B-1B Lancer, the B-2's non-nuclear counterpart, operations were completely halted for nearly two weeks in June over safety concerns related to the bomber's ejection seat system.

According to published 2016 operational costs for Air Force aircraft, the B-2 costs $121,866 per hour to fly.

Its mission-capable rate -- or the ability to be war-ready at a moment's notice -- hovers around 53 percent, according to 2017 figures reported by Air Force Times.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.

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