B-52 Crashes Off Guam, Killing At Least 3

A 2004 file photo shows a B-52 bomber on the tarmac at Barksdale AFB in Bossier City, Louisiana.
AP Photo/Dr. Scott M. Lieberman
Military officials say at least three crew members are dead after the crash of an Air Force B-52 bomber off Guam.

Rescue teams continue to search for the three airmen still missing after the Monday morning crash. They have covered roughly 3,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean.

The Coast Guard says aircraft from as far away as Japan were brought into assist in the search-and-rescue operation.

The military says the B-52 was en route to a flyover in a parade when it crashed about 30 miles northwest of Apra Harbor.

Six vessels, three helicopters, two F-15 fighter jets and a B-52 bomber were involved in the search, which had covered about 70 square miles of ocean, said Coast Guard spokeswoman Lt. Elizabeth Buendia.

"We have an active search that's going to go on throughout the night," she said Monday. The Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and local fire and police departments were involved.

Maj. Stuart Upton, a Pentagon spokesman, said the aircraft was unarmed.

The B-52 bomber, based at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, was en route to conduct a flyover in a parade when it crashed around 9:45 a.m. Monday about 30 miles northwest of Apra Harbor, the Air Force said.

The Liberation Day parade celebrates the day when the U.S. military arrived on Guam to retake control of the island from Japan.

The Air Force said a board of officers will investigate the accident.

The accident is the second for the Air Force this year on Guam, a U.S. territory 3,700 miles southwest of Hawaii.

In February, a B-2 crashed at Andersen Air Force Base shortly after takeoff in the first-ever crash of a stealth bomber. Both pilots ejected safely. The military estimated the cost of the loss of the aircraft at $1.4 billion.

The B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber that can refuel in mid air. Since the 159-foot-long bomber was first placed into service in 1955, it has been used for a wide range of missions from attacks to ocean surveillance. Two B-52s, in two hours, can monitor 140,000 square miles of ocean surface.

According to the Air Force's Web site, the B-52 Stratofortress has been the backbone of the manned strategic bomber force for the United States for more than four decades. It is capable of dropping or launching the widest array of weapons in the U.S. inventory, including cluster bombs and precision guided missiles.