B-2 ‘Spirit of Kansas’ – the most expensive crash in USAF history

B-2 'Spirit of Kansas' - the most expensive crash in USAF history 1

On 23 February 2008, B-2 “AV-12” Spirit of Kansas crashed on the runway shortly after take-off. The aircraft was one in a flight of four B-2s that was returning to Whiteman AFB, Mo., following a deployment that began Oct. 5, 2007. It’s considered as the most expensive crash in the USAF history.

A B-2 stealth bomber crashed at an air base on Guam but both pilots ejected safely and were in good condition, the Air Force said. Thick black smoke could be seen billowing from the wreckage at Andersen Air Force Base, said Geanne Ward, a resident in the northern village of Yigo who was on the base visiting her husband. The aircraft was completely destroyed, a hull loss valued at US$1.4 billion.

The Northrop (later Northrop Grumman) B-2 Spirit, also known as the Stealth Bomber, is an American heavy penetration strategic bomber, featuring low observable stealth technology designed for penetrating dense anti-aircraft defenses; it is a flying wing design with a crew of two. The bomber can deploy both conventional and thermonuclear weapons, such as eighty 500 lb (230 kg)-class (Mk 82) JDAM Global Positioning System-guided bombs, or sixteen 2,400 lb (1,100 kg) B83 nuclear bombs. The B-2 is the only acknowledged aircraft that can carry large air-to-surface standoff weapons in a stealth configuration.

Each B-2 bomber costs about $1.2 billion to build.

The B-2 bomber can evade most radar signals making it difficult for defensive systems to detect, track and attack. It has a range of 6,000 nautical miles (9,600 kilometers) without refueling. The B-2 bombers have been used for missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Serbia.