Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Bad Few Days For Hornets

The past few days haven't been kind to the Navy and Marine Corps fleet of F-18 Hornet fighters ...

This past Monday evening (Mar. 15) at around 10:00pm local, two F-18E Super Hornets assigned to VFA-136 collided in mid-air. The aircraft were involved with SFARP workup with CVW-2 at NAS Fallon, NV. One aircraft crashed, the pilot fortunately was able to successfully eject.

On March 11, A F-18D from VMFA(AW)-224, flying out of MCAS Beaufort, SC, ejected from their aircraft after it caught fire over the Atlantic during a training mission. Both crew members were safely recovered.

On March 12, the Navy grounded 104 older model Hornets (A,B,C,D models) after fatigue cracks were found in some aircraft where they shouldn't have been. This accounts for 16% of the earlier model Hornets currently flying. The grounding is until the aircraft can be inspected. It was not disclosed what would happen to those aircraft found to be cracked - retirement or repair. With the Pentagon's current fixation on retiring aircraft that are actually flying, it would seem that repair is unlikely.

In other Hornet news, Boeing has offered to allow Japan to license build the Super Hornet, if Japan chooses that aircraft to replace its ageing fleet of F-4 Phantoms. 4 other aircraft are involved in the competiton for the order. Japan actually wants the F-22 Raptor, but that aircraft is prohibited from foreign sales - ironic ... it isn't good enough to continue production for the USAF, but it is too good to sell to our allies. Boeing (actually McDonnell-Douglas) has a history of license building in Japan - the majority of Japanese Phantoms were produced by Japanese industry.
Photo courtesy US Navy

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