The Fate on the Nine F-15Cs

The Air Force intends this year to repair five of its nine F-15Cs found to have cracked longerons, two senior generals told a Senate oversight panel in written testimony April 9. (See above) It will retire the four remaining airplanes “due to their proximity to planned retirement,” state Lt. Gen. Daniel J. Darnell, head of plans and requirements on the Air Staff, and Lt. Gen. Donald J. Hoffman, military deputy to USAF’s acquisition executive. The cost of fixing each of the five F-15Cs will run about $235,000. USAF will use organic materials and labor at the Warner-Robins Air Logistics Center, they said. These nine aircraft have been grounded since the mid-air breakup of a Missouri Air National Guard F-15C last November, due to the catastrophic failure of a longeron near the cockpit. For a while, all of the Air Force’s F-15 A-D model aircraft were ground; but gradually after inspections, most were cleared again to fly. Darnell and Hoffman state that the Air Force has instituted recurring longeron inspections every 400 flight hours for the 420 remaining flyable F-15 A-Ds. This will help to detect cracks before they become catastrophic. “Analysis confirms that this interval is very conservative and will avoid a mishap” such as the November crash, they write.