USAF Grounds Entire B-2 Bomber Fleet

Air Force officials are inspecting the entire fleet after a B-2 made a hard landing at Whiteman Air Force Base earlier this month.

B-2 Spirit of California takes off during a base exercise, April 9, 2014, at Whiteman Air Force Base. [Credit: U.S. Air Force]

The U.S. Air Force has grounded its entire Northrop Grumman [NYSE: NOC] B-2 Spirit bomber fleet for inspection following an incident where a B-2 made a hard landing at Whiteman Air Force Base earlier this month.

The service launched a probe into the December 10 incident after a B-2 flying a routine operation was forced to make an emergency landing after an inflight malfunction, catching fire in the process.

"Whiteman AFB instituted a safety pause of B-2 flights in order to inspect the fleet, following the incident December 10," MSgt. Beth Del Vecchio, spokesperson for USAF 509th Bomb Wing told FLYING Tuesday.

Late last week, the Air Force announced the B-2 would not be conducting a flyover for the 2023 Rose Parade or Rose Bowl Game as a result of the stand down.

"There is no speculated end date for the safety pause. Every incident is unique, and we are currently evaluating the incident and how we can mitigate future risk. Normal operations will resume at the conclusion of the safety pause," Del Vecchio said.

The Air Force introduced the B-2 in 1997 and has 20 bombers in active service and one test aircraft. Each aircraft is estimated to cost $1.2 billion.

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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