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    F-15 Eagle’s Dominance: The Untold Story of Its First Combat Triumph

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    F-15 Eagle flying through the storm
    F-15 Eagle flying through the storm

    In the annals of military aviation history, few aircraft have earned a reputation quite as formidable as the F-15 Eagle.

    F-15 Eagle on final approach
    F-15 Eagle on final approach

    This twin-engine, all-weather fighter, has marked its place in the skies with an undefeated combat record—a testament to its ingenuity and the tactical acumen of its operators.

    USAF F-15C Eagle pair
    USAF F-15C Eagle pair

    Originally designed as an air superiority fighter for the U.S. Air Force, the F-15 Eagle demonstrated its combat effectiveness when utilized by the IAF.

    USAF F-15 Eagle
    USAF F-15 Eagle

    The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has showcased the F-15’s prowess, claiming the majority of the Eagle’s over 100 aerial victories.

    F-15 Eagle flying through the clouds
    F-15 Eagle flying through the clouds

    The dawn of the F-15 Eagle’s storied combat history dates back to June 27, 1979, a day that would cement the fighter’s fearsome legacy.

    US Air Force F-15 Eagle
    US Air Force F-15 Eagle

    It was on this date that IAF ace Moshe Melnik, an already accomplished pilot, soared into the annals of aerial warfare by achieving the Eagle’s first-ever kill.

    Engaged in a mission to strike against the Palestine Liberation Organization, a formation of Israeli F-15s, known affectionately as Baz (Hebrew for Falcon), was tasked with providing cover.

    Their presence quickly drew the attention of Syrian Air Force MiG-21 interceptors.

    Cleared to engage the enemy aircraft, Melnik and his fellow pilots did not hesitate.

    Within the first half-minute of the dogfight, Melnik selected his Python 3 missile, an Israeli-made infrared-guided weapon, and launched it at a Syrian MiG-21.

    The impact was devastating, effectively cleaving the Soviet-made aircraft in half and marking the F-15’s entry into the realm of aerial combat with a resounding victory.

    Melnik’s remarkable achievement, however, did not solely define the day’s success.

    Another IAF pilot, Eitan Ben-Eliyahu, would also etch his name into military history.

    Ben-Eliyahu, piloting his own F-15, engaged another Syrian fighter with the M61 Vulcan Gatling Gun—claiming the F-15’s first gun kill.

    Throughout a series of raids against Palestinian factions in Lebanon from 1979 to 1981, the F-15s under the command of the Israeli Air Force continued to assert their superiority, downing a slew of Syrian MiG-21s and at least two MiG-25s.

    Relevant articles:
    How the F-15 Fighter First Went to War (And Not For America), The National Interest

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