A B-2 Spirit stealth bomber taxis to the runway at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, Nov. 7, 2022.

A B-2 Spirit stealth bomber taxis to the runway at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, Nov. 7, 2022. U.S. Air Force / Airman 1st Class Phoenix Lietch

B-2 Bomber Fleet Grounded Indefinitely

U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command ordered the stealth-bomber stand-down in response to Dec. 10 mishap.

The U.S. Air Force’s entire fleet of B-2 Spirits is grounded, and the sole runway at their home base remains closed after one of the stealth bombers had a malfunction while flying and was forced to make an emergency landing Dec. 10.

The head of Global Strike Command, Gen. Thomas Bussiere, directed the “safety pause” to inspect the fleet after the incident, Master Sgt. Beth Del Vecchio of Bomb Wing Public Affairs told Defense One in an email.

“At this time, there is no speculated end date for the safety pause. Every incident is unique and we are currently evaluating what went wrong and how we can mitigate future risk. We will resume normal operations once a safety investigation has been concluded,” Del Vecchio said.

Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri “manages and employs” the Air Force’s B-2s. Its runway has been closed since the emergency landing; Del Vecchio said teams are “working around the clock” to get it reopened.

A Friday press release from the 509th Bomb Wing alluded to the stand-down, announcing that B-1B Lancer bombers would take the place of B-2s in the Rose Bowl and Rose Bowl Parade flyovers.

“Our No. 1 concern is the safety and security of our personnel and fleet,” the 509th bomber wing’s commander, Col. Daniel Diehl, said in that release. “Although we are not participating in this flyover, we remain steadfast in our commitment to answer our nation’s call.”

The B-2 is the U.S. military’s only stealthy nuclear-capable heavy bomber. The Air Force also operates several dozen nuclear-capable B-52 heavy bombers.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the leader of Air Force Global Strike Command.