B-2 Spirit On Global Power Mission Diverts To RAF Fairford

B-2 diversion
B-2A 82-1066 Spirit of America on the ground at RAF Fairford after diversion on Dec. 13, 2023. (Image credit: screenshot from @SaintMil video)

A B-2 Spirit diverted to the UK during a mission from Whiteman Air Force Base.

On Dec. 13, 2023, B-2A Spirit 82-1066 “Spirit of America” landed at RAF Fairford, UK, where it diverted during a Global Power Mission from its homebase at Whiteman AFB, Missouri. Flying as DEATH 31 the stealth bomber had launched on a round-trip mission alongside another B-2, callsign DEATH 32.

After taking part in an exercise over the North Sea, the two bombers were meant to refuel from RAKE 71 and 72, two KC-135 Stratotankers from RAF Mildenhall. However, just one of the tanker launched, therefore, after air-to-air refueling, DEATH 32 departed the area for Whiteman AFB, whereas DEATH 31 diverted to RAF Fairford.

If the reason for the diversion was the lack of tanker support (as all the details seem to suggest), the episode would once again prove the old adage NKAWTG (‘Nobody Kicks Ass Without Tanker Gas’).

Anyway, our friend @Saint1Mil managed to shot an interesting footage of DEATH 31 landing at dusk at 15.56Z.

Interestingly, the airframe in question (s/n 82-1066) is the one coded AV-1. This was the first B-2 to fly from Palmdale to Edwards AFB on Jul. 17, 1989. Initially called “Fatal Beauty”, it was then upgraded as Block30 and renamed Spirit of America. “This is the first time it has landed in the UK,” @Saint1Mil told us.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.