WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The engine fell off the plane while it was on a training mission outside Minot Air Force Base and the pilots were able to land the aircraft safely using its remaining seven jet engines. Engine debris fell on an unpopulated area about 25 nautical miles (46 km) northeast of the airbase.
"It's a specific concern and something we will want to investigate fully," Cook told reports at the daily Defense Department press briefing.
The B-52 has been in active service with the US Air Force since 1955. The aircraft has received multiple upgrades and continues to be used as a heavy bomber, including most recently in the US war in Afghanistan.
According to Defense News, the recent engine incident could set off a new debate about whether and how to re-engine the bomber force, which consists of 76 aircraft and complement the US nuclear triad.
The Air Force plans to continue operating the planes until at least 2040, when they are expected to be replaced by the B-21, a new $550 million a pop heavy bomber manufactured by Northrop Grumman.
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