Investigators were unable to pinpoint the cause of an F-15C crash on a sortie over the Nevada Test and Training Range last October, announced Air Combat Command. “Given the limited evidence available, the [accident investigation board] president was unable to determine a mishap cause by clear and convincing evidence,” states the investigators’ report. Assigned to Nellis, AFB, Nev., the F-15 was on a single-ship test sortie on Oct. 24, 2011. Recovering from a high-G evasive breaking maneuver, the aircraft departed controlled flight and entered a flat spin, according to the AIB report’s findings. When engines and flight control inputs failed to recover the aircraft, the pilot lowered the undercarriage in accordance with procedures, regaining control at approximately 4,000 feet in altitude. Attempting to regain flight speed, the pilot applied full power in “an aggressive recovery,” states the report. The F-15 stalled again, forcing the pilot’s low-altitude ejection near 1,400 feet. He was not seriously injured. The Eagle was destroyed upon impact on unoccupied federal land 85 miles northwest of Nellis, a loss estimated at $32 million. (AIB report; caution, large-sized file.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.