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Fri, Nov 04, 2022

Patriotic Livery Celebrates Distinguished Fighter Jet

The Raiments of Perseverance

The California Air National Guard’s 144th Fighter Wing has unveiled a new F-15C paint scheme certain to be a hit with fans of freedom, fighter jets, and Old Glory.

The livery, unveiled 22 October 2022, drapes red and white stripes across the upper and lower surfaces of the aircraft’s wings, elevons, and a considerable swath of its amidships belly. The jet’s engine inlets and forward fuselage—excepting its radome—are resplendent in a deep-blue field punctuated with white stars, while its ventral midline, vertical stabilizer and rudder assemblies, and radome are painted a contrasting and aggressive matte-black. The forward starboard and port fuselage sections, at an arm corresponding with the pilot’s position, are bilaterally adorned with the stylized silhouette of a striking griffin.

“That’s Tail Flash #113, which recently reached more than 10,000 flight hours,” the 144th Fighter Wing’s Facebook page declared. “To celebrate, [we] painted the aircraft with this special paint scheme.”

In commemoration of Tail Flash #113’s ten-thousand flight-hours, the black expanse of its ventral speed-brake sports a white triangular emblem encompassing characters spelling out “10K.”

Tail Flash #113’s accumulation of such a high number of flight-hours is a compelling testimonial to both the foresight and skill of the McDonnell Douglas wizards by whom she was designed.

Many, if not most, American F-15s would have stopped flying years ago had lawmakers voted to fund the acquisition of the 750 F-22 Raptors after which the U.S. Air Force had passionately and protractedly pined. The F-22 became operational in 2005—as the Global War on Terror found its stride. Regrettably, the case for an expensive, stealthy, air-superiority platform became increasingly hard for USAF brass to argue as America’s most bellicose enemies resorted increasingly to ancient, bolt-action rifles and homemade roadside bombs.

Incapable of casting their gaze beyond the Middle East—e.g. north, to Russia, or east, to China—Congress, at the beginning of the 2010s, capped the Raptor fleet at an anemic 187 specimens and shut down production of the aircraft.

“This decision has proven to be extremely near-sighted given the growing threat of Chinese aggression and Chinese 5th generation fighters and advanced air-to-air weapons that now threaten U.S. air superiority,” wrote the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, a think tank that studies airpower and provides consulting services to the Pentagon.

According to a 2017 Nellis Air Force Base press release celebrating one of the facility’s Eagles having reached the ten-thousand-flight-hour mark, the F-15’s initial operation requirement was for a service life of four-thousand-hours. The release went on to circuitously explain that the service life limit of the F-15C had been extended to eight-thousand-hours and beyond “because of the need for air superiority.”

Notwithstanding the fatuity to which its length of tooth is ascribable, Tail Flash #113 remains an incontrovertible credit to the maintainers at the 144th Fighter Wing, an inspiration to those lucky enough to lay eyes on her, and a splendid symbol of America’s indomitable will to endure.



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