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B-1 bomber burns after landing in Qatar

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  • NEW: Bomber burned after landing at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar
  • NEW: Crew was able to evacuate aircraft safely, military says
  • Al-Udeid Air Base has the military's longest runway in the Middle East
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(CNN) -- A U.S. Air Force B-1 bomber caught fire Friday after a landing at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, U.S. military officials said.

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A sweep-wing B-1 bomber, similar to this one, caught fire after landing Friday in Qatar, the U.S. military says.

The crew evacuated safely, the officials said.

They said the fire began while the plane was taxiing after landing about 9:10 p.m. at al-Udeid, the headquarters of U.S. military air operations for the Middle East.

Officials said the fire on the bomber was contained. A military board of inquiry has been appointed to investigate the incident, they said.

The officials said initial reports said the plane crashed at the headquarters of the U.S. military's air operations for the Middle East.

The B-1B Lancer is widely used by the U.S. military to bomb targets over Iraq and Afghanistan. Learn more about B-1 bombers »

It carries a host of satellite and laser-guided bombs and is able to remain over targets for long periods of time to assist in close-air support for troops on the ground.

In December 2001, a B-1 crashed while returning from a bombing run over Afghanistan to a British base on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia.

Originally designed to speed nuclear bombs into Cold War Russia, the B-1 was retooled to become a long-range bomber able to carry more conventional bombs, allowing it to hit more targets over a wider area.

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Al-Udeid, about 20 miles south of Qatar's capital of Doha, has the military's longest runway in the Middle East.

About 3,300 U.S. troops, mostly Army, are stationed at the base. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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