Not Good

Filed under:Need a Good Editor?,Not Cool,Priorities — posted by Anwyn on November 6, 2007 @ 3:05 pm

Boys, ever had your cockpit break away from the fuselage in flight? No, I didn’t think so.

WASHINGTON — F-18 fighters aboard the aircraft [carrier] USS Enterprise have been called in to backfill in Afghanistan after all non-mission critical F-15 flights were temporarily suspended Saturday following the crash of an older model during a routine training session in Missouri last week.

According to Air Force officials, the cockpit broke apart from the plane’s fuselage in mid-flight on Friday. The pilot ejected safely. An investigation into the cause of the accident is still ongoing.

Glad to hear we’re sending F-18s, but I hope and trust it will be found to have been an anomaly. If F-15s were prone to this kind of behavior this would have happened long before now.

In other news, another sad instance of jargon taking the place of perfectly usable English. I don’t like that word “backfill.”

In still other news, maybe Fox needs to hire a few copy editors. I counted at least two mistakes just in a quick skim. Back to the issue at hand: Why are the guys still flying these old aircraft? The F-15 is a beautiful thing, but if the USAF needs Raptors it shouldn’t have to cut support personnel to get them:

The Air Force has been struggling to free up funds to purchase more advanced aircraft such as the stealth F-22 Raptor, one the most advanced aircraft available, to replace these older planes. Attempts to create funds in recent months involved drawing down forces by 40,000 airmen, an effort that Air Force Secretary Michael Wynn has said “isn’t working.”

Ground war is expensive in more ways than one.


  1. Yeesh. Imagine explaining that one…

    “Um…it just kind of fell off.”

    Comment by wg — November 6, 2007 @ 7:37 pm

  2. It’s happened before and on other aircraft as well. Usually a corrosion problem combined with high stress. Pilot got out alive but is bashed up pretty bad, will be in the hospital for a while. We’ve been speculating that the grounding of the fleet was also an attempt to highlight the aging problem, but that’s just informed rumors. F-22 just costs too much, think it’s up to $225M now, maybe more. Paying for it by cutting personnel has been painful, we deploy more than ever, but do it with fewer people, it’s gonna get worse before it gets better, but we’ll manage; don’t really have a choice!


    Comment by Tater — November 7, 2007 @ 12:38 pm

  3. Anwyn likes fighter planes?

    Comment by See-Dub — November 8, 2007 @ 10:17 pm

  4. Anwyn hasn’t met too many planes she doesn’t like, although I will say a Tomcat looks a lot less pretty on the ground than in the air.

    My dad was a tanker pilot for 20 years and an airline pilot for about 10 after that.

    Think of SeeDub and he will appear. I was driving home from cop school tonight and thought about something connected with you or the JYB, I forget now, and poof!

    Comment by Anwyn — November 8, 2007 @ 10:29 pm

  5. I call all fighter aircraft F-16s. I may need to pay closer attention, because two air bases (one a National Guard base) are within flying range and fly over my house all the time. I’ll be really ticked off if one of them crashes into my house or messes up the azaleas.

    Comment by Anne — November 9, 2007 @ 11:10 am

  6. Tater’s on to the correct solution, methinks. The Light Greys (as we call the F-15Cs when we’re not calling them “Rodan” or “Flying Tennis Courts”) have been around since the early ’80s at best. They’ve been pulling 9G since then, and metals can only take so much before fatigue cracks appear. If fatigue cracks get to a certain length and go undetected, failure is the result.

    I think the F-15s will be flying again relatively soon, but with limits. The non-destructive inspection (the one that looks for fatigue cracks inside the structural elements of the aircraft) cycle will almost certainly have to be increased.

    I hope we can get more F-22s. Not like I’ll benefit from that, the current CSAF wants to send only F-15C pilots to the Raptor from now on. The F-35 isn’t going to get to us any earlier, and it won’t do some of the things that Raptor will.

    The F-14 may have looked cool, but it was a 6G aircraft. The -D model could have held its own in a dogfight with any third-generation aircraft and with some fourth-generation aircraft, but not with half of the fourth-generation, and certainly not with the fifth. Its’ original goal was to stay a long way away from opponents and schwack them with the long-range AIM-54 Phoenix missile. It was a little older than the F-15 (by an entire one year), so if we’d kept them in service, they’d start having similar problems. They have to worry more about corrosion causing fatigue, but they pull less G than the F-15 or F-16.

    Comment by Chris — November 10, 2007 @ 12:02 am

  7. I always liked -15s, -16s, and -18s better than the -14. It just looks clunky and heavy on the ground.

    It doesn’t make sense to me to put only -15 pilots into the -22. Is it just to save on retraining, since they hope to phase out the -15? I assume they plan to keep the -16s around awhile longer.

    Comment by Anwyn — November 10, 2007 @ 5:50 pm

  8. The F-22 community got quite a few Viper and a couple Mudhen (F-15E) drivers, enough for them to get versed in the little bit of bomb-dropping they’ll have to do; the CSAF simply decided that he wasn’t going to take any more from the multi-role community (Please note that the current CSAF is an Eagle driver himself).

    They won’t really save any money on retraining; unless there’s something I don’t know, even F-15C pilots have to go back to Tyndall AFB to retrain on the F-22 if they’re selected to switch. The big problem is the AF went from over 700 F-15Cs to 183 F-22s. There just isn’t space for everyone anymore.

    The F-16s will be around for a long time. The F-35 will eventually replace us (and the A-10, and the F-18C/D, and the AV-8B), but the first F-35As won’t be going operational until 2011 or later. I would expect later, that seems to be the unending trend. Besides, although we’ll end up buying something like 1,500 F-35s all told, there were until recently even more F-16s than that. And like I mentioned, the F-35 is supposed to replace four different airframes.

    The Air Force is hurting right now. I’m kind of hoping more folks in Congress bump the AF’s acquisition budget up. We really need about 380 F-22s, and we need to make sure the F-35 purchase doesn’t get slashed. Congress has a habit of doing that, and it always drives the price per unit up astronomically until we end up asking ourselves if it’s really worth it to buy the new fighter at all, then we end up with F-15Cs breaking up in midair with few replacements on the horizon. . . .

    Comment by Chris — November 10, 2007 @ 10:21 pm

  9. Re retraining, all I meant was that it seems like they are phasing out the -15 no matter what, so if they A) allowed everybody to switch to the F-22, they’d B) have to train both -16 and -15 pilots (and -18, and whatever else) on the -22 AND C) train some more to take over the -16s (and -18s, and whatever else). Whereas if they just keep -16 pilots in their own planes they can just wait till the -35s come in and not have to train many more -16 pilots, yeah?

    Thanks for that rundown. No surprise to find that Congress is still ignorant of basic economics, alas. I read that stat on how many -22s they’re scheduled to buy vs. how many -15s they’ve got aging out. It’s scary.

    Comment by Anwyn — November 10, 2007 @ 11:24 pm

  10. The scary thing is I don’t think Congress is ignorant of the economics. There have always been a significant number of representatives who don’t want to put money in the defense budget. I get the impression their actual goal is to drive the price per unit up until the weapons systems get axed because they’re “Too expensive.” Then Voila! money gets freed up for whatever domestic or non-defense pet projects they’ve got.

    After all, if we didn’t buy weapons from the warmongering greedy military-industrial complex, war would go away!

    *End Sarcasm*

    Comment by Chris — November 11, 2007 @ 2:45 pm

  11. Yes, well, that too, of course. :(

    Comment by Anwyn — November 11, 2007 @ 2:51 pm

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