Combat Egress Maneuver Doomed Weight-Imbalanced F-15E

An F-15E exceeded its angle-of-attack parameters during a combat maneuver over northern Libya in late March, leading to an unrecoverable spin that caused the aircraft’s crash near Benghazi, according to the findings of US Air Forces in Europe’s accident investigation. Both the pilot and combat systems officer ejected and survived the crash with minor injuries. The Strike Eagle pilot was attempting to egress the target area using “an Air Force-approved” maneuver—albeit at a previously untested altitude—after dropping a bomb, states the summary of the accident investigation board’s report. A contributing factor was the aircraft’s weight imbalance. The F-15E suffered a software glitch rendering it impossible to drop ordnance mounted on its right wing, reported Stars and Stripes, citing USAFE’s investigation lead. This weight imbalance issue was exacerbated by the failure of an underwing right-side fuel tank to empty properly. The fighter was assigned to RAF Lakenheath, Britain, but was operating out of Aviano AB, Italy, in the early days of NATO’s air campaign over Libya. The lost aircraft and associated equipment were valued at $48.2 million. (AIB report; caution, large-sized file.) (See also USAFE release on the findings.)