Friday, December 19, 2014

Crash...into us

Guam is on the edge of another large buildup of forces. The political stumbling blocks that existed in Washington D.C. for several years, stalling and slowing the US military buildup are now disappearing. The buildup isn't the psychotic, frenetic, diplomatic-cocaine-fueled nightmare that it was almost ten years ago when it was first announced and proposed. It is somewhat smaller and will take place over a longer period. At that time, the focus was on Pagat. Now, new locations have been mixed in, Fena, Litekyan, Pagan and Tinian. These sites were always there on the map of American militarization in the Marianas. There are maps that link them together. There are study documents that discuss and theorize them in tandem. There are lists of resources or assets in the regions that connect them. In some ways, when the US military and its analysts and its decision-makers look at the region, they do a much better job linking locations together than many activists or even average people do. When Pagat was threatened, people had no trouble looking at it and feeling it should be protected (at least at that time). It is interesting to see the response to Litekyan and how it is far more subdued. As if people feel like this should already be over or somehow this is something different. Litekyan is a place that is far more loved in my opinion than Pagat, because it fits the idealized portrait of an island paradisical sanctuary, whereas Pagat is jungle, a cave and a hike. Litekyan is history, culture, beauty, on a beautiful beach that if you sent pictures to your friends elsewhere in the winter world right now, they would be insanely jealous. For Pagat we were able to collect several thousand signatures to protect it. My students alone ended up collecting four thousand. An online petition for Litekyan has a little over 1000.

One thing to be cautious of, during any period of militarization is the likelihood of accidents or catastrophes. As I've written about several times on this blog, during the last period of a heavy increase of activity and training in the region, there were multiple accidents involving aircraft around Guam, several of which cost the lives of military personnel. Here is a list of the incidents and also an article that came out in the UK after one of the accidents took place. Two crashes involving B-2s took place in that year alone, each plane costing more than 1 billion dollars.

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B-52 Bomber
July 2008
Crashed 30 miles northwest of Apra Harbor

B-1 Bomber
March 2008
Collides with two emergency vehicles during a landing

EA6B-Prowler
Feb. 2008
Crashed two miles northeast of Ritidian

B-2 Bomber
Feb. 2008
Crashed shortly after takeoff at Anderson Air Force Base

Helicopter Sea Combat - 25
September 2007
Crashed during a training mission at Fena

2 F/A - 18 Hornets
August 2007
Collide during Valiant Shield traning, are able to land

F/A 18C Hornet
August 2007
Crashed 400 miles southeast of Guam

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Published on
by
The Independent on Sunday/UK

The Most Expensive Air Crash in History

by
Raymond Whitaker
Nobody was seriously hurt and no damage was done on the ground. But the crash of a B-2 stealth bomber on the Pacific island of Guam yesterday - the first involving this type of aircraft - was the world's worst air disaster by one measure: money.

Only 22 B-2s have ever been made. The cost of building each one is between $1.2bn (£610m) and $1.3bn, but once development costs are factored in, the figure approaches $2bn per aircraft. By comparison, the British Airways Boeing 777 written off in the Heathrow crash last month (again without serious injury) would have cost around $160m.

The cause of yesterday's crash is unknown. The bat-like B-2 plunged to the ground shortly after take-off from Guam. Both pilots managed to eject safely; one remained in hospital in a stable condition last night. A thick plume of smoke rose from the crash site, but the US Air Force reported no injuries on the ground or damage to buildings.

The crash happened as the B-2 took off with three others on their last flight out of Guam after a four-month deployment, part of a continuous US bomber presence in the western Pacific. The other three aircraft are being kept on Guam pending investigations.

Sixteen B-2 bombers have been used in combat, over Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iran. One mission over Afghanistan in 2001 took 44 hours, with a pair of aircraft taking off from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, where all B-2s are housed, and landing on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean after the attack. The aircraft were refueled in flight, and the pilots took it in turn to sleep. It is believed to have been the longest air combat mission ever.

© 2008 independent.co.uk




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