B-52 Stratofortress engine falls off during training flight in North Dakota

A B-52H Stratofortress flies over the Northern Neighbors Day Air Show at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., Aug. 13, 2016. (Photo by Senior Airman Kristoffer Kaubisch)

A B-52 Stratofortress from Minot Air Force Base, ND, lost one of its eight engines Wednesday while conducting a routine training flight.

The bomber and its crew of five landed safely without sustaining further damage to the aircraft.

This particular B-52, which had no weapons on board during the mission, belongs to Minot’s 5th Bomb Wing.

An Air Force spokesman was quoted by ABC News as saying that the crew “declared an in-flight emergency when the pilot discovered that an engine departed the aircraft.”

According to reports, the engine broke up and debris landed in an unpopulated area 25 nautical miles northeast of Minot. No immediate information of injuries or damage on the ground was available.

Shortly following the in-flight emergency, A UH-1N Huey helicopter was dispatched to the site where the engine fell to recover any debris.

B-52s are among the oldest aircraft operated by the US Air Force, with 76 of them remaining in inventory, despite being more than 50 years old. The bombers continue to take part in missions overseas, from bombing militants in Iraq to flying over the contested waters in the South China Sea.

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range strategic bomber that has received multiple upgrades throughout its lifetime and continues to be used as a heavy bomber.

B-52s are mostly used in missions against countries that do not have sophisticated air defense capabilities, and drops both precision and non-precision weapons. The planes also have the capability to launch nuclear weapons.

The Air Force plans to continue operating the Stratofortress until at least 2040, when it’s expected to be replaced by the B-21, a new $550 million heavy bomber developed by weapons manufacturer Northrop Grumman.

A safety investigation board is being convened to determine what caused the engine to separate from the aircraft.

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  • Jim Verchio is a staff writer for Popular Military. As a retired Air Force Public Affairs craftsman, Jim has served at all levels. From staff writer to Editor-In-Chief, he has more than 30 years experience covering military topics in print and broadcast from the CONUS to Afghanistan. He is also a two time recipient of the DoD’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award for journalism excellence.

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