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F-15E Strike Eagles to fly again in Iraq, Afghanistan

  • Story Highlights
  • F-15s grounded after a November 1 crash in Missouri
  • F-15 is used for ground support in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
  • All U.S. Air Force 224 E-model aircraft will undergo a one-time inspection
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Air Force is returning F-15E Strike Eagle jets to service over Iraq and Afghanistan after grounding other F-15s, the Air Force said Wednesday.

The Air Force grounded models of its F-15 fleet after the crash of an older model F-15C this month.

The F-15s were grounded after a crash earlier this month in Missouri of an older model that disintegrated in flight.

Each F-15E must pass an inspection of critical parts on the airframe before returning to flying missions, Air Force officials said.

All U.S. Air Force 224 E-model aircraft will undergo a one-time inspection of hydraulic system lines, the Air Force statement said.

The longerons -- molded, metal strips of the aircraft fuselage that run from front to rear -- will also be inspected, according to the Air Force.

The straps and skin panels in and around the environmental control system bay will also be examined, officials said.

The Air Force would not say whether the parts being inspected were part of the problem on the aircraft that crashed.

The investigation into why that plane fell apart in flight is still ongoing and Air Force officials will not say what happened until the investigation is complete, an Air Force spokesperson said.

Air Force officials said the rest of the almost 500 F-15s -- older airframes than the F-15Es -- will remain grounded until the investigation offers a solution to what happened.

The E-model aircraft, the youngest and most sophisticated in the F-15 inventory, is heavily used by Central Command for ground support in the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is also used for the homeland security mission over the United States known as Operation Noble Eagle.

On November 3, the Air Force grounded all of its F-15s in response to a November 1 crash of a Missouri Air National Guard F-15C in Boss, Missouri.

The grounding forced Central Command to use other Air Force, Navy and French fighters to fill the gaps, though Strike Eagles did fly to support troops in battle in Afghanistan as an emergency measure while they were still under grounding orders, according to Central Command reports.

The plane that crashed, built in 1980, was one of the older F-15s in the fleet.

The F-15E Strike Eagle is an air-to-ground and air-to-air fighter, making it more versatile than other F-15 models, which are used for only air-to-air missions.

The Strike Eagle is used in Afghanistan and Iraq in its air-to-ground role, using its advanced sensors to drop bombs on targets. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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