US Air Force Receives New F-15EX Eagle II Strike Aircraft

The US Air Force has received two F-15EX Eagle II strike aircraft as part of a $1.2-billion contract signed with Boeing in 2020.

The handover brings the agency’s Eagle II fleet to four. The planes were delivered to the 96th Test Wing (EX3) and 53rd Wing (EX4), which also operate the EX1 and EX2, arriving at the installation in March and April 2021. Two more F-15EXs will be shipped to the service.

The F-15EX was derived from the F-15 Eagle twin-engine, all-weather fighter jet introduced in the 1960s.

It incorporates modernized avionics, software, and open architecture capabilities to ensure operability and match modern threats.

Boeing said that the F-15EX can integrate more weapon systems than other fighters in its class, including hypersonic assets measuring 22 feet (6.7 meters) in length and weighing up to 7,000 pounds (3,175 kilograms).

For Aircraft Testing

According to the US Air Force, the EX3 and EX4 are designed with test technologies “both for the platform itself and other combat aircraft” that the initial planes did not have.

The features include an upgraded warning system, ultra-high frequency satellite communications antenna, and a cockpit pressure monitor.

In addition, the latest Eagle IIs have a forward fuselage specially modified for the agency.

Boeing’s F-15EX aircraft. Photo: US Air Force

“Our integrated test approach, which combines developmental and operational test, brings the future faster to the warfighter,” 96th Test Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Geraghty explained.

“This ensures the US Air Force continues to provide deterrence and readiness for the high-end fight.”

F-15EX Program Milestones

The US Air Force wrote that the delivery is the final step of its F-15EX program this year.

The service finalized the Eagle II’s primary test and evaluation phase with an air-to-air and air-to-ground munition firing test in September.

In mid-2023, the EX1 and EX2 were deployed to various states to support multinational military exercises, demonstrate advanced weapons integration, and test their interoperability.

In January, the aircraft conducted a live fire test of the AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) and AIM-9X Sidewinder missile using their latest weapon stations.

The F-15EX, the Air Force’s newest fighter aircraft, is flanked by an F-15E and F-15C in the distance March 11 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The aircraft will be the first Air Force aircraft to be tested and fielded from beginning to end through combined developmental and operational tests. The 40th Flight Test Squadron and the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron personnel are responsible for testing the aircraft.
F-15EX at Eglin AFB. Photo: Samuel King Jr./USAF 96th Test Wing Public Affairs

“The F-15EX has met every challenge we’ve thrown at it to date and the platform is on the cusp of being ready for the warfighter,” Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force Commander Lt. Col. Christopher Wee stated.

“I am tremendously proud of the team and their efforts to foster the F-15EX program. The F-15EX is the most capable Eagle on the planet and we are just getting started.”

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