Not quite this bad...but. Mike Ramirez weighs in on the F-15 stand down, with a cartoon that's bound to delight the F-16 community.
In Monday's edition of Investor's Business Daily, the great Michael Ramirez offers his take on the extended grounding of the Air Force's F-15 air superiority fighters. With much of the Eagle fleet on the ground, he suggests, the nation's air defenses (and the fighter that forms its backbone) are little more than junk. Ouch.
Fortunately, the air defense situation isn't quite that bad--at least, not yet. While more than 400 F-15s undergo safety inspections, Air National Guard (ANG) F-16s have been filling in at locations normally staffed by F-15 units. Vermont Air Guard F-16s, which normally sit alert at Langley AFB, VA are also pulling duty at Otis ANGB, Massachusetts. Vipers from the Illinois ANG are on alert in New Orleans; the California ANG is covering the entire west coast, and members of the Minnesota ANG got the best deal of all: with the Hawaii guard's F-15s grounded, F-16 pilots and support personnel from Duluth are now sitting alert near Honolulu.
So far, the additional duty hasn't created any excessive hardships for the ANG F-16 units, although the expanded alert commitment forced the California guard to borrow jets from units in Indiana and Arizona. A spokesman for NORAD told the Associated Press that air defenses have not been compromised, though "you're spreading resources a little thinner than we'd like." However, he insisted that "We can be anywhere at any time."
As the inspections of the Eagle fleet continue, ANG F-16s are expected to maintain their expanded air defense duties for several more weeks. And, given the rivalry that exists between the F-15 crowd and the Viper community, the Ramirez cartoon of a "junkyard Eagle" is bound to make its way onto a few F-16 squadron patches, complete with such mottoes as: "When the Other Guys Fall Apart...We're Still in the Fight," (or) "Defending You When Others Can't."
Still, the Ramirez jibe is tame compared to a legendary insult from the 48th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS), which handled the alert mission for years at Langley AFB. Long after Langley's 1st Fighter Wing had converted to the F-15, the 48th FIS was still flying 1960s-era F-106s and providing air defense for the entire mid-Atlantic coast region.
Mindful that his area of responsibility included Langley AFB, an enterprising 48th FIS commander decided his unit needed a new slogan, and had it painted across the doors of his alert "barn," in letters big enough to be seen by the F-15 jocks across the runway. It read:
"DEFENDER OF THE EAGLE's NEST"
That motto lasted all of one day. It created such a howl that the 48th FIS commander was directed to remove it by none other than the four-star general who ran Tactical Air Command (forerunner of Air Combat Command), also based at Langley. The general, who was a bit partial to the Eagle, didn't take kindly to such insults, especially from an air defense unit.
Ironically, the 48th FIS eventually converted to the F-15 and flew that aircraft until it was inactivated in 1991. Ironically, the Eagles from the 48th FIS were transferred to the Missouri ANG--the same unit which suffered the November F-15 crash that triggered the current stand down.