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Huge B-1 plane down near border

Huge B-1 plane down near border

Aug 20, 2013 - The Associated Press

The crash site is within the Powder River Training Complex, an 8,300-square-mile block of airspace centered just northwest of where South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana meet.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- A B-1B bomber crashed in a remote area of southeastern Montana on Monday, but its four crew members survived after ejecting from the South Dakota-based aircraft, Air Force officials said.

Two pilots and two weapons system officers ejected before the bomber crashed about 9:30 a.m. near Broadus, Mont., said Col. Kevin Kennedy, commander of the 28th Bomb Wing. He said they were taken by ambulance and air to two South Dakota hospitals, but none of them suffered life-threatening injuries.

Aerial photos of the crash show a massive charred area of prairie land void of recognizable aircraft parts.

Kennedy said the Air Force will conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the crash, which occurred about 170 miles southeast of Billings, Mont., near the Wyoming border.

"No one likes to lose an aircraft. It's bittersweet that we did," Kennedy said during a news conference Monday afternoon. "Luckily, all four air crew are safely recovered."

The plane, which was built in 1985, was based out of South Dakota's Ellsworth Air Force Base, one of only two bases in the U.S. that have B-1B crews. Ellsworth has 28 of the planes, including the one that crashed, the Air Force said.

Kennedy said Ellsworth has temporarily shut down flights until his maintenance and operations group commanders can ensure that they can safely resume.

The cost of a B-1B bomber is about $283 million, said Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Allen Herritage.

The B-1B is a swing-wing bomber intended for high-speed, low-altitude penetration missions.

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