A B-1B bomber has crashed on Monday morning in a remote area of southeast Montana, but the crew was able to eject safely and only suffered minor injuries.
A spokesperson for Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City said the crash happened near Broadus. Two pilots and two weapons systems officers made up the crew of four.
The entire crew survived the crash according to interviews given by spokesperson to CBS station MTN in Missoula, Montana.
There are not many details available at this time. Ellsworth AFB maintains and flies 28 B-1B bombers, as well as being the home of two of the three Air Force B-1 combat squadrons.
“We are actively working to ensure the safety of the crew members and have sent first responders to secure the scene and work closely with local authorities at the crash site,” said Col. Kevin Kennedy, 28th Bomb Wing commander. “Right now all of our thoughts and prayers are with the crews and their families.”
Residents of the town of Ekalaka, reported that the emergency sirens went off between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. to alert the volunteer fire department of the crash.
The Carter County Sheriff’s office was also responding to the emergency calls.
Residents also say that several ranchers reported seeing parachutes and an explosion before the crash. Reports also said that a plume of smoke was visible from the area of the accident.
Ellsworth Air Force base said they will be conducting a full investigation into the incident to determine what was the cause of it.
Aerial photos of the crash show a large charred area where the plane hit the ground. The plane was built in 1985 and has an estimated cost of $283 million.
Kennedy said the loss was bittersweet, but is glad the crew escaped alive.
The B-1B bomber is a swing-wing plane intended for high-speed, low-altitude penetration missions. This is the first crash involving such plane since 2001, when a B-1B bomber crashed in the Indian Ocean while supporting efforts in Afghanistan.
[Image via Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III/USAF]