11/29/07 — Air Force grounds F-15s again, but not E model

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Air Force grounds F-15s again, but not E model

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 29, 2007 1:46 PM

For the second time in less than a month, Air Combat Command officials have ordered the grounding of F-15 fighter jets.

But this time, the E model stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base will not be affected.

ACC spokesman Maj. Tom Crosson said the directive came after an investigation into the Nov. 2 crash of a Missouri National Guard F-15C revealed structural problems near the canopy of the aircraft.

A metallurgical analysis of the "mishap aircraft" drew attention to the F-15's upper longerons, major structural components of the fighter jet that run along its length and side.

Manufacturer simulations indicate a "catastrophic failure" could occur in this area.

Crosson said more than 400 A through D models have since been ordered to stand down.

But because the E model -- known around Seymour Johnson's 4th Fighter Wing as the Strike Eagle -- is the newest version of the aircraft in the Air Force's 600-plus F-15 fleet, the structure of concern "does not exist in the same way" on it.

Crosson said it is unclear when the order will be lifted.

In the meantime, F-15A through F-15D crews will take their training to classrooms and simulators.

"They are not just going to go home and twiddle their thumbs," he said.

More than a dozen 4th Fighter Wing F-15Es are currently deployed as members of the 336th Fighter Squadron "Rocketeers" continue their support of the global war on terror.