HAGATNA, Guam — A BUFF – an acronym that stands for Big Ugly Fat Fellow – also known as a B-52H Stratofortress flown by the United States Air Force crashed Thursday morning at 830am local time at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.
The bomber aborted on takeoff and caught fire about 8:30 a.m. Chamorro Standard Time. All seven aircrew members safely exited the aircraft. No injuries were reported. Emergency responders were on scene, according to Andersen’s public affairs office.
The B-52 was deployed to Andersen from Minot, N.D., as part of the U.S. military’s continuous bomber presence mission in the Pacific.
The aircrew are members from the 69th Expeditionary Bomber Squadron and were performing a routine training mission.
The B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions. The bomber is capable of flying at high subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet (15,166.6 meters). It can carry nuclear or precision guided conventional ordnance with worldwide precision navigation capability according to the U.S. Air Force’s website.
The last major crash of a B-52 aircraft in Guam was in July 2008, when one crashed into the ocean about 35 miles northwest of the island, killing all six flight crew on board, according to an Air Force investigation report. The plane had taken off from Andersen to perform a flyby in the Guam Liberation Day celebration.
The 69th Expeditionary Bomber Squadron, which began its deployment March 2, replaced its sister unit, the 23rd Expeditionary Bomber Squadron.
“The B-52 is a symbol and a strategic projection of power,” said Maj. Luke Dellenbach, 69th Expeditionary Bomber Squadron’s assistant director of operations, in announcing the squadron’s Guam deployment in March. “The training environment and airspace out here is great. There are a lot of individuals in the squadron that have not had the experience flying a long-range distance over oceanic waters, so this will be a great opportunity for them.”
Guam Fire Department spokesman firefighter Kevin Reilly said multiple units responded to Thursday’s crash. Rolenda Faasuamalie, Guam International Airport Authority spokeswoman, said an airport firefighting unit was deployed. Guam Waterworks Authority assisted with a water tanker, a release stated.
The military established an incident command, and the local government assisted, said GFD Chief Joey San Nicolas. “It’s too early to comment on what happened,” he said.
“We assure the public this does not appear to be an attack, and we highly discourage anyone from spreading assumptions, or any information that does not come from (the Office of) Civil Defense or the military itself,” he said.
The incident is under investigation.
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