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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 February 2008, 19:15 GMT
US probes crash of stealth bomber
B-2 stealth bomber
B-2 bombers evade radar signals, making them hard to attack
The US military is investigating why a B-2 stealth bomber crashed shortly after take-off on the island of Guam.

The United States Air Force (USAF) says the crash is the first ever involving the radar evading plane, which cost about $1.2bn (610m) each to build.

They say both pilots ejected safely before the plane came down at Andersen Air Force Base.

The B-2 was one of just 21 such aircraft operated by the US, the only country which has the stealth bomber.

The crashed aircraft was not carrying munitions at the time of the incident, according to a statement from the Pacific Air Command.

The bomber is capable of carrying nuclear as well as conventional weapons.

Final mission

Lieutenant Colonel Doug Smith from the USAF told the BBC that both pilots, who have not been identified, were safe.

"The two pilots... ejected prior to the crash. One of them was medically evaluated and released and the other is in a stable condition at a naval hospital," he said.

Map of Guam

The distinctive triangle-shaped aircraft has a range of 6,000 nautical miles (11,112 km) without refuelling and has seen service in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

All are based at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, US, but four aircraft have been on a four-month deployment to Guam, a US territory 3,700 miles south-west of Hawaii, as part of a continuous US long-range bomber presence in the Pacific.

The aircraft was on its last flight from the base, having been scheduled to return to Missouri, following the arrival of six B-52s on Guam.

Force of the impact

Thick, dark smoke could be seen rising from the wreckage shortly after the crash.

According to the Pacific Daily News website a large crowd gathered near the scene.

Local resident Albert Saboy described what he saw to the Pacific Daily News:

"I heard a loud bang, saw some smoke and a co-worker called me and told me what happened," he was quoted as saying. "My co-worker was driving the water truck with the air-con on and windows up, he could still feel the burst [of the crash]."

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Crash site of billion dollar bomber plane



SEE ALSO
US military plane crashes at base
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US beefs up firepower
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