Maintening pilot's air combat skills sharpt is a challenging mission. On one hand, best training is achieved in the harshest environment with no restrictions, as in actual combat, while on the other hand safety margins must be kept strictly. Major efforts are made to prevent loss of lives and aircraft during traning.
|Credit : Ra'anan Weiss Collection|
IAF air combat training is known for its ferocity, with pilots prepared to reach the limits of aircraft performance in order to position their adversaries within their sights.
Unfortunately many accidents occured during ACM training until appropriate safety margins were determined and enforced upon eager IAF pilots.
In fact, all F-15 losses in IAF service occured during training and not in combat !!!
2 - Is F-15 able to flight with only one wing ?
The first warning mark for the Israeli pilots occured on May 1, 1985, and proved the F-15 could fly even with one wing !!!
This event received high exposure when the picture of the wingless F-15 was released after a successful emergency landing.
Two F-15s were conducting CAP training, intercepting four A-4s simulating an attack force. One of the aircraft (F-15D N°957) tracked two of the A-4s and dived to engage them when suddently the crew felt a strong jolt. Assuming they passed through some other participant's slipstream the crew prepared to eject when a large ball of fire, the A-4 that collided with them passed nearby.
Only then did the crew realize that the jolt they sensed was a result of a collision with an other aircraft.
The F-15 then dived from the altitude of 12,000 feet at an angle of 45 degrees down and 60 degrees deflection. After the pilot reconnected the electrical steering he managed to stabilize the aircraft and regain control at an elevation of 4,000 feet. From the aircraft handling the crew could deduce their wing was severely damaged. The fuel flowing from the wing spar / fuselage area obscured the extent of the damage from the aircrew.
Joined by its formation member in close formation, the F-15D turned towards the nearest runway at Ramon AFB and prepared for an emergency landing.
The pilot gradually reduced airspeed in which the aircraft could remain controllable was 250 knots.
Touching the runway with its arrester hook deployed, the aircraft engaged the first cable strung across the runway, but due to the high speed the hook detached from the aircraft.
With speed down to 150 knots, the aircrew anticipated another deceleration at the second cable mounted at the runway's second third.
Past that point, the pilot requested the control tower to deploy the emergency net and applied the braking système despite the aircraft's high speed. Thr F-15 came to a final stop 10 meters from the deployed net.
The aircraft was taken for repair and two and half months after the collision, the pilot that landed the F-15D, conducted the first test flight.
When détails of the accident reached McDonnell Douglas personnel, they submitted their opinion stating that flying and landing an F-15 without one its wings was aerodynamically impossible.
When one of MD's senior officials visited Israel he was asked how much of an F-15's wing could be removed with the aircraft still capable of flying. When the executive answered that third of the wing could be taken off at the most, his hosts presented pictures of F-15 N°957 after its landing.
|Credit : The "Spearhead" Squadron|
|The pilot Ziv Nedivi and WSO Gal Yeho'ar landing the damaged aircraft (Credit : The "Spearhead" Squadron)|
|Credit : The "Spearhead" Squadron|
|Rear view from the above of the extensive damage. Aircraft was towed to a hardened shelter at Ramon AFB.|