F-15E Accident Investigation Report Released By Air Force





F-15E Accident Investigation Report Released By Air Force

By Mike Mitchell

December 1, 2009 - Two Air Force officers were killed July 18 in the crash of an F-15E Strike Eagle. The aircraft, assigned to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., was flying in support of coalition operations in eastern Afghanistan. The crash occurred at approximately 3:15 A.M. Kabul time. 

A team of U.S. and coalition forces where immediately responded to the crash site, secured it and recovered the Airmen. Air Combat Command officials today released the results of an F-15E Strike Eagle in Afghanistan. The report stated the flight lead weapons system officer's incorrect assessment of a training target's elevation led to the crash, according to the ACC Accident Investigation Board report. 

The crew was killed upon impact, and the $55 million aircraft, assigned to the 4th Fighter Wing, was destroyed.  There was no damage to personal property. According to the ACC Accident Investigation Board report, two F-15Es were practicing night high-angle strafe attacks on their return to Bagram Airfield when the flight lead incorrectly assessed the target's altitude as 4,800 feet above sea level. The target was actually at 10,200 feet. Neither crew recognized the 5,000-foot discrepancy.


An F-15E, similar to this one, crashed in Afghanistan July 18, 2009, after a flight lead weapons system officer's incorrect assessment of a training target's elevation, according to the Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board report released Dec. 1, 2009, at Langley Air Force Base, Va.


The flight lead flew the first practice strafing attack, but discontinued the approach because his angle of attack was too shallow. The mishap crew began their attack and impacted the ground 10 seconds later. No attempt to pull out of the attack was made, and neither the pilot nor the weapons systems officer attempted to eject. The board found five factors significantly contributed to the mishap: misperception of the operational conditions in the target area; an erroneous expectation for a typical night strafing attack; inexperience by the flight lead and the mishap crew at executing night strafing; channelized attention; and an improper cross check during the attack. 

The F-15E Strike Eagle is a American all-weather ground attack strike fighter. It was designed in the 1980s for long-range, high speed interdiction without relying on escort or electronic warfare aircraft. The Strike Eagle, a major derivative of the F-15 Eagle air superiority fighter proved its worth in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Allied Force, carrying out deep strikes against high-value targets, combat air patrols, and providing close air support for coalition troops. It has also seen action in later conflicts and has been exported to several countries. United States Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles can be distinguished from other U.S. Eagle variants by darker camouflage and conformal fuel tanks mounted along the engine intakes.


In 1979, McDonnell Douglas and F-15 radar manufacturer, Hughes teamed to privately develop a strike version of the F-15. In March 1981, the USAF announced the Enhanced Tactical Fighter program to procure a replacement for the F-111 Aardvark. The concept envisioned an aircraft capable of launching deep interdiction missions without requiring additional support by fighter escort or jamming. General Dynamics submitted the F-16XL, while McDonnell Douglas submitted a variant of the F-15 Eagle with two seats. On 24 February 1984, the USAF awarded the ETF to McDonnell Douglas' F-15E Strike Eagle. One of the prime reasons the Air Force selected the F-15E over the F-16XL was the F-15E's 40% lower development costs. Also, the F-15E had more room for growth and has better survivability with two engines. The Air Force initially planned to purchase 392 F-15Es.  

The F-15E's first flight was on 11 December 1986. The first production model of the F-15E was delivered to the 405th Tactical Training Wing, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., in April 1988. The "Strike Eagle", as it was dubbed, received initial operational capability on 30 September 1989 at Seymour Johnson AFB in North Carolina with the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing, 336th Tactical Fighter Squadron.  

Variants of the F-15E have been developed for Israel (F-15I), Korea (F-15K), Saudi Arabia (F-15S), and Singapore (F-15SG). The F-15E will be upgraded with the Raytheon APG-63(V)4 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar after 2007. It combines the processor of the APG-79 used on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet with the antenna of the APG-63(V)3 AESA being fitted on the F-15C. The new radar upgrade is to be part of the F-15E Radar Modernization Program. In 2009, the APG-63(V)4 radar was designated APG-82.

While most of the F-15C/Ds are being replaced by the F-22 Raptor there is no slated replacement for the F-15E. The Strike Eagle is a more recent variant of the F-15, and has a sturdier airframe rated for twice the lifetime of earlier variants. The F-15Es are expected to remain in service past 2025. The Air Force is currently pursuing the 2018 Bomber, a medium bomber concept which could also take over the Strike Eagle's "deep strike" profile. The "A" variant of the F-35 Lightning II, which is projected to eventually replace many other attack aircraft such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon and A-10 Thunderbolt II, could also take over much of the F-15E's role.

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