An excellent piece today from Josh Partlow at the Washington Post...looks like the F-15 problems are getting worse...And USA Today reported a couple days ago that the Pentagon's comptroller Tina Jonas put the breaks on shutting down the F-22 line.
From the Saturday Post:
Air Force inspectors have discovered major structural flaws in eight older-model F-15 fighters, sparking a new round of examinations that could ground all of the older jets into January or beyond, senior Air Force and defense officials said...
...Current and former Air Force officials said that the grounding of the F-15s -- on average 25 years old -- is the longest that U.S. fighter jets have ever been kept out of the air. Even if the jets are cleared for flight, they add, it could take six months to get the pilots and aircraft back to their normal status...
...The disclosure of the cracks comes amid intense Air Force lobbying for the purchase of additional new fighter jets. The Air Force wants to replace its aging F-15s with 200 more F-22 Raptors beyond the 183 already approved by Congress and the Defense Department. Senior Defense Department officials have not agreed that the additional planes are needed or supported their purchase. The F-22s, which cost $132 million each, are manufactured by Lockheed Martin, a Bethesda-based firm...
And our boy Winslow Wheeler, who doesn't suffer fools, has a perfectly reasonable solution: fix 'em.
...Some outside analysts have said that the F-15 problems can be fixed and that the extra F-22s are unnecessary. "I don't suspect that the Air Force is lying when it says it has discovered stress fractures in the longerons of the F-15s," said Winslow Wheeler, an expert at the Center for Defense Information and a longtime opponent of purchasing additional F-22s. "But there's no big deal about that. Fix it."
Wheeler said Congress should look into the F-15 issue. In another prominent case, involving refueling tankers, several independent study panels concluded that the Air Force had exaggerated the structural consequences of aging for older planes so that it could make a better case for leasing new ones.
Air Force photos of the damaged beams show clearly visible cracks toward the rear of the fighters' cockpits. Photos and drawings provided to The Washington Post show cracks in similar locations on both sides of the planes and that the F-15 that crashed had undetected damage behind the cockpit.