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An ongoing investigation of a 2 November crash is focusing on potential failure of the F-15’s upper longerons near the canopy seal.
Recent inspections found cracks in this same area on two other F-15Cs. A Boeing simulation analysis shows such cracks could lead to “catastrophic failure”, the air force says.
Canadian CF-18 fighter jets helped plug a hole in U.S. air defences for almost two weeks this month after American jets were grounded as part of a crash investigation.
The request to fill in for U.S. F-15s over the Alaskan coast was considered an urgent priority for NORAD, especially in light of the return of Russian strategic bombers to Arctic patrols.
Although not unprecedented, defence officials said the now-concluded operation was one of those "extremely rare" occasions when Canada was able to contribute to the defence of its much larger neighbour.
The aircraft are now back at their home base in Bagotville, Que., and the air force was able to lift what was described as a veil of operational security.
"I can't say precisely how many CF-18s were involved, but certainly there were a few," said Maj. Mike Lagace, a spokesman for Canadian NORAD operations, based in Winnipeg.
"We really don't want to say very much in case they're called on again."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Air Force said on Tuesday it had grounded all its older-model F-15 fighter jets, as many as 450 aircraft, for the third time in four weeks, after finding cracks in a third aircraft under a tightened inspection routine.
Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne told the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit in Washington that the latest F-15 "stand down" underscored the need to extend Lockheed Martin Corp's production line for the F-22 fighter, designed to replace the Cold War-era F-15s.
for the third time in four weeks,
These findings, based on a metallurgical analysis of the mishap aircraft, continue to focus on the F-15's upper longerons near the canopy of the aircraft....
Computer simulations have indicated a catastrophic structural failure could result from cracks in the longerons. To date, longeron cracks have been discovered in an additional four aircraft. These aircraft are awaiting further engineering instructions before they are returned to operational status.
Maintainers at Langley have found no cracks or evidence of fatigue in F-15 longerons so far; however, throughout the Air Force, maintainers have found cracks in the upper longerons of eight F-15s (as of Dec. 10). Four of these aircraft are assigned to the Air National Guard's 173rd Fighter Wing, Kingsley Field, Ore.; two are assigned to the 18th Wing, Kadena Air Base, Japan; another is assigned to the 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall AFB, Fla.; and one assigned to the ANG 131st Fighter Wing, St. Louis, Mo.
According to Capt. Timothy Blasiman, 71st Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge here, his team and other maintenance back shops are working around the clock to conduct these inspections.
Each of the 20 F-15s assigned to Langley require a minimum inspection time of 12.5 hours. Some F-15 models elsewhere require inspections that take more than 20 hours. The B and D models are more time consuming, said Captain Blasiman, because they have two seats. The rear seat requires removal to access the upper longerons.