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    HomeMilitaryThe F-15EX Eagle II: Ushering in an Era of Unrivaled Aerial Firepower

    The F-15EX Eagle II: Ushering in an Era of Unrivaled Aerial Firepower

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    In the ever-evolving arena of aerial warfare, the U.S. Air Force’s F-15EX Eagle II, affectionately known as the “Super Eagle,” is redefining what it means to dominate the skies with an armament capacity that may position it as the most heavily armed fighter jet to date.

    With capabilities to carry a vast array of missiles and a focus on versatility over stealth, the F-15EX is a formidable presence in the USAF’s inventory.

    An F-15EX Eagle II assigned to the 40th Flight Test Squadron, 96th Test Wing, out of Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., conducts aerial refueling operations above Northern California, May 14, 2021. The aircraft participated in exercise Northern Edge 21 in Alaska earlier this May. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ethan Wagner)

    The first of this advanced variant, rooted in the F-15QA developed for Qatar, was delivered to Eglin Air Force Base on March 11, 2021, with a second arriving on April 20, 2021, for operational testing. The next six jets are on track for delivery in 2023, with an eventual plan to phase out the aging F-15C/D fleet, signaling a significant shift in the USAF’s approach to air combat readiness.

    Master Sgt. Tristan McIntire, 40th Flight Test Squadron, marshals the F-15EX, the Air Force’s newest fighter aircraft, to a stop at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. March 11, 2021. The F-15EX will be the first Air Force aircraft to be tested and fielded from beginning to end through combined developmental and operational tests. (U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

    This new iteration of the Eagle lineage is not just an incremental upgrade; it is a leap forward in combat capabilities. Digital fly-by-wire flight controls, a Large Area Display (LAD) glass-cockpit with touchscreen interface, and advanced radar systems such as the APG-82 AESA are only the beginning.

    The addition of the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) and the Eagle Passive/Active Warning and Survivability System (EPAWSS) ensure pilot safety and effectiveness in hostile environments.

    F-15A Flight. background template - elements of this image furnished by nasa
    F-15A Flight. background template – elements of this image furnished by nasa

    One of the most striking aspects of the F-15EX is its armament flexibility, highlighted on August 30 when the 53rd Wing took the Eagle II to the skies armed with a potent mix of twelve Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) and three Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSM), the latter successfully launched during tests at Eglin Air Force Base.

    McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagle Fighter
    McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagle Fighter

    This armament capacity is a significant increase from the eight missiles that previous F-15 models, such as the F-15A, F-15C, and F-15E, could carry.

    The Department of the Air Force awarded a nearly $1.2 billion contract for its first lot of eight F-15EX fighter aircraft, July 13, 2020. The contract, awarded to Boeing, provides for the design, development, integration, manufacturing, test, verification, certification, delivery, sustainment, and modification of F-15EX aircraft, including spares, support equipment, training materials, technical data, and technical support. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

    At the heart of this expansion is the Advanced Missile and Bomb Ejector Rack (AMBER) system, which increases the aircraft’s air-to-air missile capacity by 50 percent to 12, totaling 23 weapon stations. The AMBER racks are game-changers, enabling the F-15EX to function as a “missile truck” in collaborative engagements with fifth-generation fighters like the stealthy F-35 Lightning II.

    Unlike the F-35, which must internalize its munitions to maintain its stealth profile, the F-15EX has no such limitations. It can freely carry an assortment of weapons externally, with the trade-off of a reduction in speed and maneuverability due to the increased load. This allows the F-15EX to pack a balanced arsenal, capable of striking heavily defended targets with its JASSM cruise missiles, followed by engaging enemy aircraft with its formidable air-to-air combat load.

    related images you might be interested.

    An F-15E Strike Eagle from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, prepares to land at Andersen AFB, Guam, on Wednesday, June 14. The Strike Eagles are here through September as part of an air expeditionary deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman First Class Michael S. Dorus)
    990218-F-0000L-001 A U.S. Air Force F-15E Eagle flies above snow covered mountains during a routine patrol over Northern Iraq on Feb. 18, 1999, in support of Operation Northern Watch. Northern Watch is the coalition enforcement of the no-fly-zone over Northern Iraq. The Eagle is deployed from the 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom. DoD photo by Capt. Patricia Lang, U.S. Air Force. (Released)
    990328-F-4728F-015 A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle takes off from Aviano Air Base, Italy, for an air strike mission in support of NATO Operation Allied Force on March 28, 1999. Operation Allied Force is the air operation against targets in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. DoD photo by Senior Airman Mitch Fuqua, U.S. Air Force. (Released)
    OVER IRAQ — An F-15E Strike Eagle flies off in the early evening light after receiving fuel from a 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron KC-10 Extender during a recent mission here in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson)
    A US Air Force (USAF) F-15D Eagle aircraft assigned to the 90th Fighter Squadron (FS) performs a 90-degree right wing over maneuver during a simulated air-air combat exercise conducted in support of Exercise NORTHERN EDGE 2002. The aircraft is armed with two AIM-120 Advance Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM), one AIM-9 Sidewinder Missiles and one SN/1387 Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP).

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