Sep 12, 2023

Air Force Investigating Mishap that Led F

An F-15D Eagle fighter jet assigned to an Air National Guard unit went off the runway at an airfield in Oregon and crashed into a nearby irrigation canal this week, according to base officials.

The fighter jet was assigned to the 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base in Klamath Falls, Oregon, and was doing routine training around 3 p.m. Monday when the incident happened. The aircraft landed in a body of water managed by the federal Bureau of Reclamation's office just by the base.

"Upon landing, the aircraft left the paved surface and came to a stop in the Bureau of Reclamation irrigation canal at the south side of the runway," the 173rd Fighter Wing said in a Tuesday press release.

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The pilot was able to exit the aircraft safely and was transported to a nearby hospital for "precaution and evaluation," the base said. The airman was not identified in the press release.

"We are so grateful that our pilot was able to walk away from this mishap," Col. Micah Lambert, 173rd Fighter Wing vice commander, said in the release. "Our Team Kingsley responders acted quickly and with professionalism thanks to the extensive training and safety mindset of our team."

An investigation into what caused the crash has already started, base officials said. Local and federal agencies, including the Bureau of Reclamation, are assisting with the mishap. Base officials are also examining whether jet fuel leaked into the canal.

"We don't believe the aircraft is leaking any petroleum products based on our initial assessment of the water in the canal," Lambert said.

The Air Force has not given details on the scope of the damage, citing an ongoing investigation. But a photograph of the incident shows the majority of the fighter jet submerged in water, with the nose cone buried in dirt on the shore of the canal. Absorbent booms are seen surrounding the aircraft as "a precaution against the leakage of fuel or other substances," the image caption reads.

An Air Force fact sheet says the F-15C/D models cost roughly $30 million each and states there are around 250 of the jets in the service's inventory. The F-15C/D jets are slowly being retired and will eventually be replaced by the new F-15EX models.

Since the Air Force began flying the F-15 in the 1970s, there have been 160 Class-A mishaps -- the term used by the service to describe its most deadly and costliest crashes -- and a total of 45 pilot deaths, according to the latest data available from the Air Force Safety Center.

The F-15 incident in Oregon follows another recent aircraft mishap for the Air Force.

Earlier this month, an F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed in a field near Osan Air Base in South Korea. The pilot safely ejected, but local media reported that the jet's crash caused a fire in an agricultural field.

-- Thomas Novelly can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.

Related: Air Force Pilot Ejects as F-16 Crashes in South Korea

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