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Despite stand down, CONR fighters remain on alert

Two Air-Defense Fighter F-16A Fighting Falcons from the North Dakota Air National Guard’s 178th Fighter Squadron lead an F-15C Eagle from the 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base, Va., in formation during a combat air patrol mission in support of Operation Noble Eagle. More than 11,000 airmen -- the majority Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve -- have generated more than 7,500 sorties to patrol American skies 24/7 since Sept. 11, 2001. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Greg L. Davis)

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TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla -- Despite a second fleet-wide stand down of A through D model F-15s, Continental US NORAD Region fighters remain on alert. 

"Our Air Sovereignty Alert and Operation NOBLE EAGLE alert missions utilize various aircraft, including F-16s, so we can maintain our alerts and launch as necessary," said Maj Gen Hank Morrow, 1st Air Force commander. 

"We are supporting Air Combat Command as they work with various Air Force agencies to bring the F-15 fleet back to flying status as quickly as possible. Until then, we remain on duty protecting our homeland," he said. 

Air Combat Command commander, Gen. John D.W. Corley, directed the stand-down of all ACC F-15 A through D model aircraft, following recent findings in the Nov. 2 F-15C mishap that now require additional inspections and possible repair actions. 

ACC recommends the stand-down of all other similar model aircraft in other Air Force major commands, including those under the operational control of U.S. combatant commanders. 

The findings indicate possible fleet-wide airworthiness problems with F-15A/B/C and D aircraft. These findings, based on a metallurgical analysis of the mishap aircraft, have drawn the attention of ACC to the F-15's upper longerons near the canopy of the aircraft that appear to have cracked and failed. The longerons are the specific metal rails that hold the fuselage of the aircraft together. 

This stand-down is pending the completion of all necessary repair actions. Although the longeron area was covered in general by previous inspections as a result of the Nov. 2 mishap, technical experts with the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, assisting in the Accident Investigation Board, have recommended a specific inspection of the suspect area based on the recent findings. Manufacturer simulations have indicated a catastrophic failure could result in this particular area. 

Based on this most recent data, the Air Force believes it is prudent to stand-down F-15 A-D aircraft until such time each aircraft can receive a more detailed and tailored inspection of the upper longerons along the focus area. 

Air Combat Command continues to work with Air National Guard, Reserve and major commands in Europe and the Pacific and our joint and coalition partners to ensure mission coverage. The stand-down does not affect the F-15E.

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