An Air Force B-52 bomber crashed off Guam on Monday morning, killing at least two airmen and leading to the search of a vast area of the Pacific Ocean for the remaining four crew members, the military said.
Six vessels, three helicopters, two F-15 fighter jets and a B-52 bomber were involved in the search, which had covered about 70 square miles of ocean, said Coast Guard spokeswoman Lt. Elizabeth Buendia.
“We have an active search that's going to go on throughout the night,” she said Monday. The Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and local fire and police crews were involved.
Maj. Stuart Upton, a Pentagon spokesman, said the aircraft was unarmed.
The B-52 bomber, based at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, was en route to conduct a flyover in a parade when it crashed around 9:45 a.m. Monday about 30 miles northwest of Apra Harbor, the Air Force said.
The Liberation Day parade celebrates the day when the U.S. military arrived on Guam to retake control of the island from Japan.
The Air Force said a board of officers will investigate the accident. The accident is the second for the Air Force this year on Guam, a U.S. territory 3,700 miles southwest of Hawaii.
In February, a B-2 crashed at Andersen Air Force Base shortly after takeoff in the first-ever crash of a stealth bomber. Both pilots ejected safely. The military estimated the cost of the loss of the aircraft at $1.4 billion.
The B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber that can refuel in mid-air. Since the 159-foot-long bomber was first placed into service in 1955, it has been used for a wide range of missions from attacks to ocean surveillance. Two B-52s, in two hours, can monitor 140,000 square miles of ocean.
According to the Air Force's Web site, the B-52 Stratofortress has been the backbone of the manned strategic bomber force for the United States for more than four decades. It is capable of dropping or launching the widest array of weapons in the U.S. inventory, including cluster bombs and precision guided missiles.