US Air Force officials are not expecting to find survivors from the Boeing B-52H which crashed into the sea 40km (25mi) northwest of the Pacific US territory of Guam yesterday.
Two of the six crew are confirmed dead. The bomber was reported missing at 09:45 yesterday while on a training mission, ahead of a planned flypast as part of the Guam Liberation Day celebration.
US Navy Lockheed P-3 patrol aircraft and Sikorsky MH-60S helicopters, along with USAF Boeing F-15Es, have been assisting two US Coast Guard vessels and a destroyer, the USS John McCain, to cover a 2,300km2 (900mi2) search area.
Commander of the 36th Wing Brig Gen Douglas Owens says: “The Coast Guard-led search effort has been extensive and the joint military and civilian team is thoroughly scouring the area in the search for survivors.”
He says the Coast Guard was on the scene within 45min of the accident, but admits: “We recognise that the longer this search continues, the less likelihood there is that we’ll find survivors. Although we continue to hold out hope, we’ve had no encouraging indicators that our airmen survived this crash.”
No identification of the specific aircraft involved has been released. The B-52H was not carrying weapons or munitions, says the USAF. It had been in Guam on a deployment from Barksdale air force base in Louisiana.