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VIDEO: Israel and Japan join US in grounding F-15s

Israel and Japan have followed the US Air Force in suspending flights of their Boeing F-15 Eagles after the 2 November crash in Missouri caused by suspected structural failure.

USAF accident investigators arrived at the crash site on 5 November. The Missouri Air National Guard F-15C crashed while engaged in air combat training with three other Eagles. The pilot ejected safely.

A video report by local television station KY3 shows the crash site. Wreckage of the aircraft from mid-fuselage aft is visible, including the wing. The forward fuselage is not discernable.

The aircraft also appears to be missing its left vertical stabiliser, although it may have detached in the crash. The right vertical stabiliser is still attached, as are the horizontal stabilisers.

A USAF F-15 crashed in the Gulf of Mexico in 2002 when it broke up after the leading edge of its left vertical stabiliser detached in a high-speed dive to Mach 1.97. The pilot was killed.

The USAF says it began replacing the leading edge and upper aft portion of the vertical stabilisers during depot overhaul and has so far completed 463 of its 664 aircraft. The F-15 involved in the Missouri accident had its vertical stabilisers repaired in August 2003, the service says.

The USAF has suspended non-combat flights by its F-15s based around the world, and says it informed other Eagle operators of the suspected structural failure. Israel has confirmed to Flight that it has grounded its 70 aircraft, a mix of F-15A/B/C/Ds and F-15Is. Japan has also suspended flights of its 200 F-15J/DJs.

F-15s are also operated by Saudi Arabia and South Korea, and Singapore has aircraft on order.

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