News Search


Kadena’s Eagles back in business

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Rey Ramon
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
The F-15 Eagles are once again soaring through the skies of the Pacific maintaining peace and stability in the Pacific. 

After a two-month maintenance stand down, the 44th and 67th Fighter Squadrons are focused on getting their pilots back in the air and mission ready to conduct operations throughout the region. 

"It's a good chance for us today to get off the ground, get some air under us and try to regain those skills that have lapsed the past couple of months," said Maj. Joseph Brian, 44th FS assistant director of operations. 

For almost two months F-15 pilots have spent their time in the classroom, in the simulator and in the gym to ensure they would be mentally, physically prepared to return to the air. 

"I expect to be a little rusty starting out, but I imagine after one or two flights we'll be back to what we were before," said Capt. Mike Kuehni, 44th FS pilot. 

After being grounded for two months, following the Nov. 2 crash of an F-15 near Lindbergh, Mo., the Air Force has been meticulously inspecting all F-15 A through D models ensuring they are structurally safe to fly. 

"I have a lot of confidence in what has been done," said Maj. Robert McMurry, 67th FS assistant director of operations. "It's unfortunate that we had to find it this way, but I'm glad they found it and they put a fix in place. I have a lot of confidence in the jet now." 

Major Brian said he has seen incredible video footage of an Eagle coming back with one wing flying just fine and landing. 

"It has an incredibly survival air frame and I'm not going to fly anything else," he said. "The Air Force does a good job of finding out when there is an incident, fixing it and making sure the aircraft is safe before they allow us to fly again." 

The F-15 has been around since the early 1970s, but the majority of the aircraft here today were manufactured in the mid-80s. Over the past 30 years significant technological advances have made the aircraft the ideal platform to perform air superiority missions in the Pacific. 

"The plane flown in the 1970s is nowhere near the same aircraft we're flying now in 2008," he said. 

The F-15 has undergone a series of avionics upgrades over the years, most notably, improvements in the radar capability to target enemy aircraft at much greater distances, and target multiple aircraft at once. 

"In addition, our capabilities increase dramatically across the combat Air Forces as everyone gets the Joint Helmet Mounted Queing System, which allows us a huge advantage," said Major Brian. "The holographic image display allows the pilot to see the other [enemy] aircraft better and cue the Air Intercept Missile 9X, which is another quantum leap of our capability from what we had just five years ago." 

Even though the F-22 Raptors are now operational, Kadena's F-15's still on the front lines of maintaining peace and stability in the Pacific Region. The aircraft stands ready to perform counter air, defensive counter air and high value airborne asset protection here at Kadena. In addition, the F-15 still handles a large portion of the air defense continental missions in the United States belongs to the F-15. 

"I think it's one of the best aircraft built. It's a great airplane and we continue to make it better through improvements," said Major McMurry. "We don't get to the point where we are saying it's good as is, but we are constantly upgrading with avionics like the radar, helmet and weapons." 

I think that process makes us as good as we can be, he said.