The quick thinking of a B-52 crew during a mishap at Andersen AFB, Guam, averted a “more catastrophic incident” as the Stratofortress caught fire on the ground, the base said Thursday. Images of Thursday’s mishap on the Andersen flightline showed a B-52H fully engulfed in flames, however, the seven-member crew was able to escape the aircraft without any injuries reported. “We are thankful that the aircrew are safe,” Brig. Gen. Douglas Cox, 36th Wing commander, said in a release. “Because of their quick thinking and good judgment in this emergency situation, the aircrew not only saved their lives but averted a more catastrophic incident.” The B-52H, deployed from Minot AFB, N.D., for a Pacific bomber rotation deployment, was conducting routine flight training, and was carrying inert munitions at the time and “posed no danger to the local community,” according to the release. Base and local emergency agencies were able to cordon off the incident site and put out the fire. It’s the first major mishap of a B-52 since a 2008 crash near the Guam base, which killed an eight-member crew that was preparing for a ceremonial flyover. Officials have not said what caused the accident. The incident is under investigation.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.