Only 86 of the more than 800 USAF F-15’s have hit 10,000 flight hours. Aircraft 91-0308 is only 1 of 53 F-15E’s to hit this milestone and the very first F-15 of any variant to do so while assigned to RAF Lakenheath.
Aircraft 91-0308, a US Air Force (USAF) F-15E Strike Eagle assigned to the 492nd Fighter Squadron, became the first F-15 assigned to RAF Lakenheath 48th Fighter Wing to achieve the milestone of 10,000 flight hours on Jul. 28, 2023.
As told by Airman Delanie Brown, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, in the article RAF Lakenheath’s first F-15 to achieve 10,000 flight hours, this aircraft has been a part of the 48th Fighter Wing for the last 31 years, arriving on Sep. 17, 1992. While a part of the Liberty Wing, the aircraft has flown over 4,100 sorties and has been through more than 20 phase inspections.
“The original service life when the aircraft was designed was only about 8,000 flight hours, which showcases the dedication the 48th Maintenance Group has had over the years to keep this aircraft in the air,” said Tech. Sgt. Evan Wilby, 492nd Fighter Generation Squadron aircraft section chief.
Only 86 of the more than 800 USAF F-15’s have hit 10,000 flight hours, he added. Aircraft 91-0308 is only 1 of 53 F-15E’s to hit this milestone and the very first F-15 of any variant to do so while assigned to RAF Lakenheath.
According to Wilby, the total hours of maintenance put into this aircraft is at least 30,000, however, that is only considering the three hour inspection that is completed at the end of each flying day.
“That doesn’t consider the inspections that are done in between each flight of the day,” he said. “That also does not consider the inspections that are done by the phase section every 400 flight hours or all the scheduled or unscheduled maintenance hours that are put into every jet. Not just this one.”
After each flight when the crew chief performs an inspection, if there were any pilot-reported discrepancies the sections within the MXG, such as the weapons specialists, would be sent out to the aircraft to repair it.
“The work that has gone into getting a jet this far is nothing short of amazing,” said Staff Sgt. Marcus Lawrence, 492nd FGS dedicated crew chief. “Achieving this milestone has come through the hard work and dedication of everyone that has been assigned to the 48th Maintenance Group in the last 31 years.”
Once an aircraft hits 10,000 flight hours, not much changes, Lawrence said. The maintenance of the aircraft doesn’t change but may require more routine checks because of such high flying hours.
Dating back to 2009, the aircraft has been involved in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve, last serving in Operation Inherent Resolve from April to October of 2021. This is in addition to the multiple operations that have taken place since 1992.
This particular aircraft, and the F-15E in general, are expected to continue flying in the USAF past 2025.
The first F-15E touched down on the Liberty Wing’s (as the 48th FW is nicknamed) runway on Feb. 21, 1992.
While assigned to RAF Lakenheath, the Strike Eagle squadrons have supported combat operations in locations including Iraq, the Balkans, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya, and have participated in exercises at more than 20 nations around the world.
The F-15E Strike Eagle is a dual-role fighter designed to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. An array of avionics and electronics systems gives the F-15E the capability to fight at low altitude, day or night and in all weather.
For air-to-ground missions, the F-15E can carry most weapons in the Air Force inventory. It also can be armed with AIM-9M Sidewinders or AIM-120 advanced medium range air-to-air missiles, or AMRAAM for the air-to-air role. The “E” model also has an internally mounted 20mm gun that can carry up to 500 rounds.
The first production model of the F-15E was delivered to the 405th Tactical Training Wing, Luke AFB, Arizona, in April 1988.
Photo credit: Airman Delanie Brown / U.S. Air Force