In a Pentagon release, the damage was described as being “canopy sill longeron cracks found between the front and rear pilot seats.” The cracks were discovered after a routine post-flight inspection on one of the jets. The discovery of cracks led to a fleet-wide inspection order throughout the USAF.
In total, 82 of the Air Force’s 157 F-16D’s were found to have the cracks, and were ordered to stand-down. The 75 remaining operable F-16D’s have been cleared to resume their duties.
Since the discovery, the Air Force has been working with Lockheed Martin engineers to discover the cause of the cracks, and what the repair options are.
The Air Force still maintains 812 other F-16 jets, which include a number of different variants, and are not impacted by the inspections or the damaged canopy sills.
Top Air Force generals, including ACC commander Mike Hostage, have said they must keep an eye on the wear and tear on the F-16s. The F-16 recently celebrated its 40th year of production, but older models have been continuously upgraded as there are advancements in the technology.
Although no official deadline has been given to get the grounded jets back in the air, it is predicted that a mix of American ingenuity and military know-how will get the birds back in the skies soon.
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Military Connection: 82 F-16D’s Grounded: By Debbie Gregory