The U.S. Air Force Is Divesting A Damaged B-2A Spirit Stealth Bomber

B-2 divestment
A B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber from the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, flies behind a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 126th Air Refueling Wing, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois (U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Mark Sulaica)

The damaged aircraft, possibly the one involved in the 2022 mishap, has been considered uneconomical to repair and will be divested in 2025.

In a totally unexpected move, the U.S. Air Force has decided to divest a B-2A Spirit stealth bomber next year, decreasing the size of the fleet to 19 aircraft. The news, first reported by the Aviation Week, was in the 2025 Report on Force Structure Changes released last month.

The document doesn’t provide many details, other than mentioning “the B-2 is being divested in FY 2025 due to a ground accident/damage presumed to be uneconomical to repair”. The document also doesn’t mention in which incident the aircraft was involved, however the most likely candidate is the one that was damaged after an emergency landing in 2022 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.

On Dec. 10, 2022, one of the 20 stealth bombers of the 509th Bomb Wing experienced an in-flight malfunction and forced to carry out a successful emergency landing on the on base’s only runway 01/19. A fire erupted aboard the B-2 after landing causing damage to the aircraft, according to officials.

Immediately thereafter, a NOTAM (NOtice To AirMen) was issued and the runway was closed for 11 days, while a safety stand down was ordered in order to perform a series of safety inspections. The stealth bombers resumed flight operations over five months later, on May 22, 2023.

To date, the cause of the incident and the entity of the damage have not been disclosed. A satellite photo showed the aircraft partially off the runway after the mishap, while a photo posted on social media showed the bomber possibly sitting on its left wing.

A similar incident happened in 2021, when a B-2A experienced a left main landing gear collapse while landing, skidded off runway and it came to a stop about a mile from the touchdown point. The aircraft, tail number 89-0129 (“Spirit of Georgia”), was later returned to flight a year later and is now still at Northrop Grumman’s facility at Plant 42 in Palmdale, California.

It’s unknown what will happen now to the B-2 when it will be divested, although we can expect that its sensitive coatings will be carefully removed as done on the F-117. It is also possible that all useful components will be removed to be used on the remaining 19 aircraft in the fleet, trying to reduce to a minimum the economic impact of the loss of this aircraft.

About Stefano D'Urso
Stefano D'Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he's also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.