Local News

Officials Say F-15s Able To Handle Weather Elements In Iraq

Posted April 8, 2003 5:18 a.m. EDT

— Military officials are making sure that the F-15 Strike Eagles used in the war in Iraq are operating at full strength and able to handle the harsh weather conditions in the Iraqi deserts.

Every F-15 Strike Eagle deployed from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base to Iraq is toting two 4,000-pound engines.

"It's great. It's a great thing. We know that we've touched everything that's flying over there and helping out our country. It's a good thing," Airman 1st Class Leger said.

An undisclosed number of maintenance personnel is deployed right now, working 24 hours a day to keep the planes working and the sand from becoming a problem. In spite of all the bad weather and sand so far, officials say the base's engines have held up remarkably well in the Middle East.

The sandstorms that frustrated the Army and the Marines ground operations are not doing much to the F-15 Strike Eagle. It seems that the all-weather plane handles dust pretty well.

"Even though a little bit of dirt might decrease the performance slightly, other than that, they're running strong through the sandstorms," Tech. Sgt. Bell said.

"It's the quality of the engine. That's what's keeping it so successful and that has a lot to do with the people here and the training," said Airman 1st Class Colon-Pagan.

"We understand peoples' lives depend on maintenance and we try to build it with that thought in mind, every aspect of it," said Master Sgt. Holt.

Sandstorms have grounded flights not only from helicopters and jets on the ground, but aircraft carriers. During the first week of fighting, crews on the USS Kitty Hawk were sent scrambling to cover jets when a sandstorm hit the battle group.

Editors note: For security reasons, the airmen in this story have asked WRAL to identify them by rank and last name only.