Jet in mid-air fire emergency

TWO airmen were forced to make an emergency landing when they saw flames shooting from one of their fighter jet's engines.The drama at RAF Lakenheath prompted a red alert at the Suffolk air base and firefighters were immediately drafted in to stop the blaze wrecking the entire F-15E jet.

TWO airmen were forced to make an emergency landing when they saw flames shooting from one of their fighter jet's engines.

The drama at RAF Lakenheath prompted a red alert at the Suffolk air base and firefighters were immediately drafted in to stop the blaze wrecking the entire F-15E jet.

Investigators are now sifting through the wrecked engine, which will cost $1 million to replace, to piece together exactly what went wrong and see if it could be prevented from happening again.

But base spokeswoman Major Stacee Bako said if the fire had wrecked the entire jet, which had just set out on a training surface attack mission with another F-15E, it would have cost $40 million to replace.


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She added the credit for saving the plane must go, at least in part, to the pilot and weapons system officer on the jet who noticed the flames shortly after take-off from the base.

Maj Bako said the pilot had made immediate contact with his colleagues on the ground and had landed the jet within minutes of take-off.

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"It's what they're trained to do, but they certainly did a good job. The fire trucks were waiting at the end of the runway to put the fire out and prevent the flames reaching the rest of the aircraft," she added.

"It was contained within that engine because the emergency crews were standing by. Once the investigation is complete, the engine will be replaced. That will cost around $1 million, compared to the $40 million for a whole new aircraft."

Maj Bako said the investigation into the February 12 incident, in which no-one was injured, would be complete within the next few months.

"It is being investigated as a class A aerospace mishap because the cost of the damage will run to $1 million. It's only a class A investigation if the cost runs to $1 million or more," she added.

"The investigation will determine the cause so we can ensure it does not happen again."

The incident happened almost a year after two pilots from RAF Lakenheath were killed after their fighter jets crashed over a blizzard-covered Scottish mountain range.

Lt Col Kenneth Hyvonen and Captain Kirk Jones, who both had family at the base, died in the incident.

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