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USAF returns fire-damaged B-2 to service

The US Air Force and Northrop Grumman have completed a nearly four-year maintenance process to return one of the service’s fire-damaged B-2 bombers to active service.

During the lengthy repair process, the price of which the USAF has not disclosed, technicians determined the cause of the fire and developed new procedures for repairing composite aircraft structures, says the USAF in a media release.

The B-2, named "Spirit of Washington", has been restored to "full mission-ready status", says the service, which has released an image of it in use at Whiteman AFB, Missouri.

The aircraft, one of the USAF’s 20 Northrop B-2s, suffered what the service described initially as a “minor engine fire” during start-up on the ground at Andersen AFB in Guam in February 2010. More than one year later, its language changed when it described the event as “horrific”.
The fire occurred in one of aircraft’s four engines and also damaged the engine bay and other parts of the aircraft.

The aircraft’s composite structure and a limited supply of B-2 parts made the repairs more difficult, but the service says the process allowed technicians to learn new composite-repair techniques. For instance, technicians sprayed pellets of dry ice on to the aircraft’s skin to remove charcoal left from the fire, it notes.

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