On Apr. 20, 2021 the 53rd Wing welcomed the second F-15EX Eagle II to Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), Fla.
Assigned to the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron and flown in by Maj. Aaron Eshkenazi, F-15 pilot, the second F-15EX showcases the 53rd Wing’s traditional “OT” tail flash.
“The 53d Wing is honored to welcome the second-ever F-15EX, and we are extremely proud that it displays the ‘OT’ tail flash,” said Col Ryan Messer, commander, 53rd Wing, in the article 53rd Wing welcomes F-15EX “002” by 1st Lt Savanah Bray, 53d Wing. “However, that ‘OT’ represents more than just unit pride; it showcases the importance of early integration of operational and developmental test to directly fulfill the National Defense Strategy, which proclaims that, ‘success no longer goes to the country that develops a new technology first, but rather to the one that better integrates it and adapts its way of fighting’; a statement we believe and live out in all of our missions.”
This is the second and final F-15EX delivered to Eglin AFB and the US Air Force (USAF) in FY21. The two F-15EXs and testers from the 40th Flight Test Squadron and 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron will work together in integrated developmental and operational test, effectively expediting the test timeline. DT/OT integration provides means for the F-15EX to get in the hands of the warfighter as soon as possible, while also ensuring the test rigor.
The F-15EX will make its exercise debut at Northern Edge 2021, proving the rapid test efforts of DT/OT integration and showcasing innovation through integration.
Actually, the F-15EX provides a unique opportunity for the test enterprise as it is the first USAF aircraft to be completely tested and fielded through combined developmental and operational test efforts.
The first F-15EX touched down at Eglin Air Force Base on Mar. 11. the Air Force’s newest fighter was christened “Eagle II” on Apr. 7.
The new fighter is a two-seat aircraft—though operable by a single pilot—with fly-by-wire flight controls, digital cockpit displays, and advanced avionics systems, to include the Eagle Passive/Active Warning and Survivability System, an electronic warfare upgrade also being fielded on F-15E Strike Eagle models.
The Air Force plans to acquire 144 F-15EXs from Boeing, to replace F-15C/D models and refresh the F-15 fleet.
At an average age of more than 37 years, the F-15C/D fleet is fast approaching the end of its useful life and operating on the margins of structural integrity. The F 15EX provides a cost-effective and expedient solution to refresh the F 15C/D fleet and augment the F-15E fleet to meet National Defense Strategy capability and capacity requirements well into the 2040s, while preserving aircraft availability from significant impacts that service life extension and modernization programs would have on the F-15C/D fleet.
The process to acquire the F-15EX aircraft started in February of 2019, when Gen. David Goldfein, then-Air Force chief of staff, signed the F-15EX Rapid Fielding Requirement Document to address readiness issues with an aging F-15 fleet. From there, the directorate’s F-15 Program Office developed the acquisition strategy, awarded the contract, conducted design and verification reviews, and worked with Boeing to manufacture and test the aircraft in record time.
Photo credit: 1st Lt Savanah Bray / U.S. Air Force
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