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108 USN/USMC F/A-18's Grounded, Wing Cracks  
User currently offlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1564 posts, RR: 0
Posted (4 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 6284 times:

Not looking good for aircraft availability for the USN... they are already pulling F/A-18 A/B+'s from reserve squadron's to send to front line squadrons to cover for airframe fatigue...

Quote:

U.S. Grounds 104 Hornets After More Cracks Discovered
By philip ewing
Published: 12 Mar 2010 15:12
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U.S. Naval Air Systems Command grounded 104 U.S. Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets March 12 after inspectors discovered the airframes were developing cracks much earlier than engineers had thought.

The grounding order affects the first four varieties of Hornet - models A through D - and does not apply to aircraft now flying combat missions over Iraq or Afghanistan. The number of Hornets affected makes up 16 percent of the Navy-Marine A through D fleet.

There have been no crashes or other mishaps related to the problem, said Navy spokesman Lt. Nate Christensen. The March 10 crash of a Marine F/A-18D Hornet from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 224 off South Carolina - in which both the pilot and weapons officer were rescued - was not related to this problem, he said.

Of the 104 grounded jets, 77 are in flight status. Of those, 23 are in Navy and Marine Corps fleet squadrons; five are forward-deployed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan; five belong to the Blue Angels flight demonstration team; and 44 are in fleet replacement squadrons. The other 27 Hornets are in a maintenance status.

The grounding notice from NavAir covered a "high stress focus area" that engineers already knew about as part of the Hornets' service-life assessment program, Christensen said, so NavAir issued a set of instructions for affected aircraft.

Squadrons have been ordered to perform a magnetic field inspection on jets included in the grounding. If they don't find cracks, their Hornets go back to unrestricted flight status, although crews are required to visually inspect the wings after every 100 hours of flight.

If a squadron can't do the magnetic inspection on a jet included in the grounding, its crews have been ordered to inspect its wings visually. Even if they find no cracks, the Hornet pilots will not be allowed to pull more than four Gs during flight.

Christensen said he did not have a breakdown for each type of Hornet - A, B, C and D - affected by the grounding. He also did not describe where the cracks were forming on each jet - for example, in their center barrels, wings, or elsewhere.

There are a total of 635 A- through D-model jets in the Navy and Marine Corps fleet.


12 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineSpacepope From Vatican City, joined Dec 1999, 2866 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (4 years 1 month 1 week 3 days ago) and read 6188 times:

Wow, 5 of the Blue Angels birds grounded. Hope this doesn't affect their schedule. Is it time to cue the "This nevver happened to them when they were flying the A models"?


The last of the famous international playboys
User currently offlineboeingfixer From Canada, joined Jul 2005, 525 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (4 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 6044 times:

Quoting Spacepope (Reply 1):
Wow, 5 of the Blue Angels birds grounded. Hope this doesn't affect their schedule. Is it time to cue the "This nevver happened to them when they were flying the A models"?

They are still flying A models. The grounding covers A through D so even the A models are affected.

Buno's for the Blue's 2010:

#1 F/A-18C: 163705
#2 F/A-18A: 163106
#3 F/A-18A: 161959
#4 F/A-18A: 163130
#5 F/A-18A: 162437
#6 F/A-18C: 163435



Cheers, John YYC
User currently offlineAirRyan From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 2532 posts, RR: 5
Reply 3, posted (4 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 6018 times:

No longer should the Corps be able to continue their chimerical aspirations of acquiring an all F-35B fleet, it's all but apparent that taking Boeing up on their Super Hornet buy for $50m a pop is required.

The Marines will get F/A-18F's to replace their F/A-18D's, and EA-18G's to replace their Prowlers, at the minimum. Hopefully they won't get any worthless F/A-18E's, they too Fugly.

[Edited 2010-03-16 09:05:18]

User currently offlineAirRyan From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 2532 posts, RR: 5
Reply 4, posted (4 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 5639 times:

I guess this story came out just after this Marine F/A-18D went down off of Beufort.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/...cl2CSWZMDDu_jgIJhD4hWm-8QD9ECG7GO0


User currently offlineCX747 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 4445 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (4 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 5513 times:

F/A-18A, B, C and D aircraft grounded over crack issues. It seems pretty funny to me that the be and end all of Naval Aviation is still coming up short. How was it that late 70s model F-14A Tomcats were still pulling flight duty only a few years ago without any of these issues? Oh, that's right, when you actually pay for quality the product will last. Should have bought Tomcat 21s rather than more C/Ds and then E/Fs. The Navy really couldn't wait to push the F-14 off the decks fast enough. Old, expensive, high in man hours per flight hours etc, etc, etc. Not a peep about F/A-18 issues.


"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid." D. Eisenhower
User currently offlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1564 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (4 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 5412 times:

Quoting CX747 (Reply 5):
F/A-18A, B, C and D aircraft grounded over crack issues. It seems pretty funny to me that the be and end all of Naval Aviation is still coming up short. How was it that late 70s model F-14A Tomcats were still pulling flight duty only a few years ago without any of these issues? Oh, that's right, when you actually pay for quality the product will last. Should have bought Tomcat 21s rather than more C/Ds and then E/Fs. The Navy really couldn't wait to push the F-14 off the decks fast enough. Old, expensive, high in man hours per flight hours etc, etc, etc. Not a peep about F/A-18 issues.

Flight time for the F/A-18's have spiked in the past 20 years, and for a number of aircraft, they are well beyond their originally designed service lives of 6,000 hours. Life extension programs have extended that limit to 8,000 hours, and structural improvements that include center barrel replacements are expected to extend that to 10,000 hours. However, the Hornet's are easier to maintain and service compared to the F-14, which is not missed by the maintenance teams...


User currently offlineOroka From Canada, joined Dec 2006, 904 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (4 years 1 month 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 5120 times:

Quoting AirRyan (Reply 3):
Hopefully they won't get any worthless F/A-18E's, they too Fugly.

Yeah, that is a good reason to influence your aircraft purchases.

Quoting CX747 (Reply 5):
How was it that late 70s model F-14A Tomcats were still pulling flight duty only a few years ago without any of these issues?

That is because they were in the hanger being fixed rather than racking up flight time. The hornets have been the work horse of the Navy for 30 years now... they Tomcats were purebreds that no longer had a mission, they were strapping bombs to a fleet defense interceptor!

The Tomcats time has past, get over it.


User currently offlineAirRyan From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 2532 posts, RR: 5
Reply 8, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 4855 times:

Quoting Oroka (Reply 7):
Yeah, that is a good reason to influence your aircraft purchases

Don't be so naive, obviously that's not the only reason. F/A-18E's would be a perfect replacement to aging ANG F-15A/C's while still adding a serious, competent A/G mode to boot. As for navalized use, beginning with the F-4 and carrying over tot he F-14, I prefer the wisdom of a tandem twin crew, especially for an aircraft where there is more to it than just A/A.

Quoting Oroka (Reply 7):
That is because they were in the hanger being fixed rather than racking up flight time. The hornets have been the work horse of the Navy for 30 years now... they Tomcats were purebreds that no longer had a mission, they were strapping bombs to a fleet defense interceptor!

The Tomcats time has past, get over it.

Nonsense, the F-14 was just fine until the production line was shut down and then the company was forced to merge with Northrop. When the Navy retired the F-14 there were a handful of F-14D's, especially of the 37 new build airframes, that still had plenty of hours left for service. Now relative speaking, of course the F-14 cost more in parts and man hours to maintain and operate than did the Hornets, but let's not ever forget what the Hornet is - a compromised half-asser neither expert in A/A nor A/G roles. It is what it's supposed to be - cheap, plentiful, and expendable.


User currently offlinesovietjet From Bulgaria, joined Mar 2003, 2519 posts, RR: 17
Reply 9, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 4836 times:
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The Blue Angels still did their routine at the El Centro airshow which was after this announcement.

User currently offlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1564 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (4 years 1 month 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 4728 times:

Quoting AirRyan (Reply 8):
I prefer the wisdom of a tandem twin crew, especially for an aircraft where there is more to it than just A/A

That's why the F/A-18F's are making a permanent appearance on the carrier air wings. 11 carrier squadrons out of 22 operate the F/A-18F over the F/A-18E.


User currently offlineCX747 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 4445 posts, RR: 5
Reply 11, posted (4 years 1 month 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 4277 times:

The tandem crew was originally going the way of the dodo until Operation Allied Freedom. Many Hornet pilots were pushing for a majority F/A-18E fleet and didn't feel a GIB was necessary. OAF really proved the overall worth of a RIO/NFO with VF-41 showcasing how to use the two man crew properly. Most strikes over enemy territory were lead by F-14s and an overwhelming majority of FAC was done by VF-41. This superior showing of the two man crew over single seat entities lead the USN to rethink their approach to dual seat cockpits. The Navy totally revamped the Super Hornet fleet and had the majority of F-14 squadrons switch to the F/A-18F. VF-41s showcasing also gave Tomcat supports the actual "combat" proof of what their bird could do. The F-14 actually did more missions in its last 10+ years than it did in the first 20.

As for the F-14 vs F/A-18 arguement, it is truly moot at this point. Grumman's final feline is in the desert getting cut up and the Super Hornet is the new ride of the great Fighter now Fighter Attack squadrons. The Super Hornet has done a pretty good job so far but I think that most people in the know understand how shortchanged the Navy is. Putting $$$ into a larger F-14D fleet in the early and mid 90s would have allowed the Navy a chance to use its resources much differently at this point in time. IF the USN had bought F-14Ds in significant numbers the production run would have lasted maybe 4-8 years making the last Tomcat's delivered to the USN only 10 years old now. You don't hear the USAF complaining about their F-15Es that were made during the same timeline. With actual updates taken seriously and not begrudingly, that platform has continued to shine.

FYI: The last Tomcat cruise had F-14Ds, F/A-18Cs, and F/A-18Es on the deck. During that last cruise of the Old Tomcat it was stated time and time again by airwing officials and those calling for airstrikes, "The F-14D is the preferred strike platform of the airwing." Too bad the pilots, CAGs and guys calling in airstrikes don't actually have as much a say as beancounters do.



"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid." D. Eisenhower
User currently offlineeksath From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 1265 posts, RR: 26
Reply 12, posted (4 years 1 month 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 4244 times:
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Quoting boeingfixer (Reply 2):
They are still flying A models. The grounding covers A through D so even the A models are affected.

Buno's for the Blue's 2010:

#1 F/A-18C: 163705
#2 F/A-18A: 163106
#3 F/A-18A: 161959
#4 F/A-18A: 163130
#5 F/A-18A: 162437
#6 F/A-18C: 163435

These Bu #s do not reflect all the Blues. The real total # of aircraft available to the Blues is approx. 17. So grounding 5 does not necessarily mean the end of the show.



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