Losses and Aviation Safety

U.S. NAVY TO HELP SWISS AIR FORCE INVESTIGATE 2015 F/A-18D CRASH

While the F/A-18D was performing a training sortie along with two F-5 Tigers over France’s Jura region one of its engines stalled but the stall warnings did not activate until 24 seconds later

The Swiss military has enlisted the help of U.S. Navy and Boeing to investigate the cause of the crash of an F/A-18D in October, 2015.

According to Swissinfo.ch, while the Hornet was performing a training sortie along with two F-5 Tiger fighters over France’s Jura region one of the F/A-18D engines stalled but the stall warnings did not activate until 24 seconds later.

Investigators say the pilot, who was able to save his life ejecting from the F/A-18, was at fault for failing to recover the jet in time.

As we have already explained Swiss Air Force is currently facing a shortage of operational fighters: actually according to Swiss Defence Ministry Guy Parmelin only 25 of its 53 F-5 Tiger fighter jets are airworthy, while 30 of 34 F/A-18 planes are operational. The Hornets in particular have been involved in a series of recent accidents: besides October 2015 accident in fact, an F/A-18 crashed into the mountains near Susten in central Switzerland on Aug. 29, 2016, while another Hornet was written off after having crashed in 2013.

Moreover the F/A-18s, which ensure Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) service to defend Switzerland’s airspace, will reach the end of their lifespans of 5,000 flight hours in 2025. To reduce Swiss Air Force fighter gap Parmelin recommended to extend their flight hours to 6,000 by evaluating and reinforcing structural weaknesses as well as replacing certain parts of the jets.

Furthermore the service will keep in service some of its aging F-5 Tigers until a new fighter aircraft comes online.

Parmelin is looking forward to launch a new fighter competition soon: the selection of the new aircraft will be based on a report prepared by a group of experts and will be limited to three type of fighters, specifically the JAS-39 Gripen, the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Dassault Rafale, or even just one of the three.

Selection will be carried out in 2020 with funds allocated to buy the aircraft in 2022. The winner is expected to enter service in 2025.

Photo credit: Jerry Gunner from Lincoln, UK and Konstantin von Wedelstaedt via Wikipedia

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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