As explained by Ilka Cole & Samuel King Jr. in their article AF’s first F-15EX arrives at Eglin, thanks to combined developmental and operational tests, the aircraft will be the first US Air Force (USAF) aircraft to be tested and fielded from beginning to end.
“It’s a special day for the base and our mission,” said Brig. Gen. Scott Cain, 96th Test Wing commander. “We’re very proud to be part of the next evolution of this historic aircraft. I look forward to seeing this unique test collaboration prepare the F-15EX for the warfighter.”
The EX1 is marked with “ET” from the 96th TW’s, 40th Flight Test Squadron, while the EX2, arriving in April, will display the “OT” tail flash to represent the 53rd Wing’s 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron.
Both test squadron commanders ferried in the EX-1 together to better support the combined test effort.
“Choosing to have the two commanders ferry the jet down was a concerted effort to reinforce the cooperation between DT and OT organizations and integration efforts,” said Lt. Col. Jacob Lindaman, 85th TES commander.
The aim of integrated testing is to ensure the EX is delivered to the warfighter as soon as possible, while ensuring the aircraft meets test objectives. This combination of Eglin’s testers allows the teams to identify any system issues early on, so they can be addressed before the F-15EX’s increased production and delivery to the squadrons.
The Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force here will manage test planning and oversee all the groundwork for the EX’s test program.
“Combining these test capabilities on day one of flight test helps ensure F-15EX is ready to execute on air tasking order day one. We’re confident that along with our OFP CTF partners running test management, we will provide that capability faster to the warfighter than ever before,” said Lt. Col. Richard Turner, 40th FLTS commander, who flew the new EX to Eglin.
While the new fighter can be operated by a single pilot, it is a two-seat aircraft with an increased payload capacity, electronic flight controls, advanced cockpit and mission systems and software capabilities.
The EX1 completed its first flight on Feb. 2, 2021.
The F-15EX, the most advanced version to date, features the Eagle Passive/Active Warning and Survivability System electronic warfare system to improve mission effectiveness and survivability for operators.
In July, the Air Force awarded Boeing a contract to build the first lot of eight jets. Future plans call for as many as 144 aircraft.
As already explained, the F-15EX will simply fall in on the mission of the F-15C/D, but since in the 2030s the F-15E comes to the end of its service life the EX could shift to more of the Strike Eagle model’s ground-attack mission.
Photo credit: Samuel King Jr., 1st Lt. Karissa Rodriguez and Ilka Cole / U.S. Air Force
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