US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles have been cleared to fly, ending the grounding imposed following the 2 November crash of an F-15C caused by structural failure. The Es are the youngest Eagles, and there is no news yet on when the older A/Bs and C/Ds will be allowed back in the air. Presumably the Israelis and Saudis will follow suit in returning their F-15Is and Ss to flight while the older Eagles around the world stay on the ground.
Only a confirmed sceptic could argue the US Air Force over-reacted to the crash by indefinitely grounding almost 700 F-15s just to drive home its calls for more funding to replace its ageing aircraft fleets, but it got the attention of Congress. Six senators have demanded the Pentagon release three reports said to call for additional F-22s beyond the 183 the Air Force is planned to receive.
They were prompted by US defence analyst Loren Thompson who, in a typically forthright issue brief “Policymakers Suppress Expert Findings on Future Fighter“, accuses the Pentagon of withholding the study results because each concluded 183 Raptors was not enough. The USAF says it needs 381, but would probably settle for 250.
Personally, I don’t think a few new F-15Es would go amiss either.
“Move over!” – “Not yet, mate!” (US Air Force photo)