Thirteen of the 25 F-15 fighter jets at Nellis Air Force Base remained grounded this week, awaiting clearance to fly again, base officials said.
"At this point it’s premature to say if they will be grounded permanently," Nellis spokeswoman Capt. Jessica Martin wrote in an e-mail Wednesday afternoon. She noted that Air Combat Command will ultimately decide on the fate of the Nellis F-15s.
The aircraft were grounded Nov. 5, after an F-15 flown by a Missouri Air National Guard pilot crashed on Nov. 2 in Missouri. The pilot, Maj. Stephen Stilwell, managed to eject from the aircraft.
Some of the Nellis’ F-15s are used as aggressor aircraft that portray would-be enemy jets in Red Flag air combat training exercises. The first one of the year is set to begin Saturday but the F-15 aggressors have been pulled out of the January portion so the pilots can requalify.
"If they meet the requirements by the February portion, they would fly in it, but that will need to be seen in the next few weeks," Martin wrote.
"So yes, there is a very large impact on Red Flag, one which we’re adapting for this exercise."
Despite the grounding of F-15s that have affected all squadrons, she said the mission readiness at Nellis "is still steady as we have other capable airframes and pilots."
The F-15s at Nellis include those in the 57th Wing, the 65th Aggressor Squadron and some assigned to the 53rd Wing out of Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., that are stationed at Nellis in the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron.
On April 4, an F-15C Eagle lost its cockpit canopy while flying a test mission over the Nellis range in the Elgin-Caliente military area.
After a wild ride, the pilot landed the fighter jet safely back at the Nellis base about 20 minutes after it had taken off.
The canopy is a clear, sturdy enclosure or windshield that covers the aircraft’s cockpit. The aircraft, which can cruise at 570 mph, was assigned to the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron from Eglin Air Force Base.
Contact reporter Keith Rogers at krogers@ reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-0308.