The Air Force reportedly gave the OK for F-15E model fighters to resume flying operations, after grounding the entire F-15 fleet earlier this month following the Nov. 2 crash of an Air National Guard F-15C. The Goldsboro (N.C.) News-Argus reports that USAF has lifted the grounding order for the E models, including those flown by the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C. They were due to start flying again Wednesday, after a “short maintenance spin up,” Col. Steve Kwast, 4th FW commander, told the newspaper. The E model has a stronger airframe than the A-D models, since the Air Force developed the Strike Eagle specifically for air-to-ground missions. Initial reports from the accident investigation indicate the C model F-15 may have suffered a structural failure in flight.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.