The 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) recently validated the F-15EX Eagle II’s employment of the longest Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground standoff munitions in the Department of Defense combat inventory.
As told by Capt Lindsey Heflin, 53rd Wing, in the article F-15EX employs Standoff Precision Guided Munitions, completes Integrated Test and Evaluation Phase 1, the tests were executed during the 53rd Wing’s Weapons System Evaluation Program (WSEP) which was led by a collaborative effort between the 83rd and 86th Fighter Weapons Squadrons.
During Integrated Test & Evaluation (IT&E) Phase 1, the F-15EX participated in 19 Large Force Exercise events where it integrated with 5th generation aircraft, recorded the longest Air-to-Air Missile employment, and validated the first F-15EX employment of the longest non-nuclear Air-to-Ground munition release in the inventory.
“Proving the F-15EX capability to employ three JASSMs after witnessing validation of the Air-to-Air dominance role it can play with a 12 AMRAAM loadout is incredible,” said Maj. Calvin Conner, 85th TES F-15 division commander. “The firepower a 4-ship of F-15EXs brings to a combatant commander is tremendous.”
The rapid testing and fielding of the F-15EX is due in part to the fully integrated developmental and operational test teams housed at Eglin AFB. These testers, originating from the 40th Flight Test Squadron, 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron, and Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force (OFP CTF), have expedited the test timeline setting a precedent for future aircraft programs, to include the B-21 Raider.
This event marks the conclusion of F-15EX IT&E Phase I. Data from this phase will be analyzed by the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center and Office of the Secretary of Defense Director of Operational Test and Evaluation for final reporting to steer a full rate production decision determination in the coming months.
The USAF is embracing the F-15EX as a means to shore up its fighter force, facing the hard reality that it just doesn’t have enough iron to go around.
The service received only 186 F-22s and it never got the 381 Raptors it planned for to replace its F-15C/Ds and carry the air superiority mission through 2040. The USAF had to retain more than 200 of the youngest or lowest-time F-15Cs well beyond their planned service lives to meet global force requirements. Now those F-15C/Ds are so worn down that the USAF officials say it’s no longer cost-effective to fix them. Hence the service decided to buy the F-15EX to replace the F-15C/D.
The F-15EX is anticipated to join the F-35 Lightning II, F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-22 (until a sixth-generation fighter will replace the Raptor).
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force via Air & Space Forces Magazine
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