Thursday, January 05, 2017

An engine fell out of a B-52 bomber on Wednesday, the Air Force has confirmed. It fell off the damn plane. A bajillion dollar bomber.

The Air Force has since dispatched a UH-1N Huey helicopter to recover engine debris, which was found located in an unpopulated area about 20 miles south of the Canadian border in North Dakota,  northeast of Minot Air Force Base, an Air Force spokesman said in a statement.

The plane falling apart in peacetime unhurried training flight could start a debate about whether and how to re-engine the service’s B-52 inventory.

Back in 2007 the Minot Air Force Base got another black eye when six AGM-129 ACM cruise missiles, each loaded with a W80-1 variable yield nuclear warhead, were mistakenly flown in a B-52 all the way down to the Barksdale base in Louisiana. The warheads were supposed to have been removed before the missiles were loaded on the plane.

Nobody noticed the warheads were missing for 36 hours.

Back in 2014 the Department of Defense was warning that the "trend of complacency" at the Minot Air Force Base was going to put the missions there at risk.

 The news that a B52 from the base dumped an engine into the Clark Sayler Wildlife Refuge isn't going to lead anyone to conclude that the complacency is over. For an added level of embarrassment, this happened the day before a visit from the Secretary of the Air Force.

North Dakota’s congressional delegation is always fighting to keep North Dakota’s bases open, but the Minot Air Force Base has been making it difficult.

 Back in 2014 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited the base after a review of the nuclear programs there found major problems with crumbling infrastructure and morale.

The Boeing-manufactured bombers have been flying since 1952 and are expected to remain operating until around 2040, depending on when it is fully replaced by the Northrop Grumman’s B-21.

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