Air Force returns some F-15s to service
WASHINGTON (AP) — The majority of Air Force F-15 fighter jets are returning to flight after being grounded for two months over possible structural flaws, officials said Wednesday.
Some 160 of the jets have been found to have defects and will remain grounded indefinitely following an investigation into why one broke apart in midair and crashed Nov. 2 in Missouri. The pilot safely ejected.
“The priority in resuming operations for a portion of the F-15 fleet is the defense of our nation — America deserves nothing less,” said Gen. John D.W. Corley, head of the Air Combat Command.
The grounding of the planes has strained the nation’s air defense network, forcing some states to rely on their neighbors’ fighter jets for protection, and Alaska to depend on the Canadian military.
“Aircraft inspection results and counsel from both military and industry experts have made me confident in the safety of a portion of the fleet,” Corley said in a statement e-mailed to reporters Wednesday. The Air Force grounded all of its F-15s — nearly 700 — after the catastrophic failure of an F-15C during a routine training flight in Missouri. A few hundred — the newer F-15E models being used in Iraq and Afghanistan — returned to service shortly afterward.
Of the remaining 450 models A through D of the jets — which are used for homeland security air patrols — some 260 have cleared inspections, the command said. About 20 have yet to be inspected, and the other 160 have been found to have at least one longeron that doesn’t meet manufacturer’s specifications, the command said, referring to the main support structure that runs from front to rear of an aircraft’s fuselage. Published in The Messenger 1.10.08