F-15 Eagle: Aircraft profile

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The F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to permit the Air Force to gain and maintain air supremacy over the battlefield.

F-15 Eagle: OPERATION ALLIED FORCE -- An F-15C Eagle from the 48th Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, breaks away from a 100th Air Expeditionary Wing KC-135R Stratotanker from Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England.F-15 Eagle: OPERATION ALLIED FORCE -- An F-15C Eagle from the 48th Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, breaks away from a 100th Air Expeditionary Wing KC-135R Stratotanker from Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England.

Features

The Eagle's air superiority is achieved through a mixture of unprecedented maneuverability and acceleration, range, weapons and avionics. It can penetrate enemy defense and outperform and outfight any current enemy aircraft. The F-15 has electronic systems and weaponry to detect, acquire, track and attack enemy aircraft while operating in friendly or enemy-controlled airspace. The weapons and flight control systems are designed so one person can safely and effectively perform air-to-air combat.

The F-15's superior maneuverability and acceleration are achieved through high engine thrust-to-weight ratio and low wing loading. Low wing-loading (the ratio of aircraft weight to its wing area) is a vital factor in maneuverability and, combined with the high thrust-to-weight ratio, enables the aircraft to turn tightly without losing airspeed.

A multimission avionics system sets the F-15 apart from other fighter aircraft. It includes a head-up display, advanced radar, inertial navigation system, flight instruments, ultrahigh frequency communications, tactical navigation system and instrument landing system. It also has an internally mounted, tactical electronic-warfare system, "identification friend or foe" system, electronic countermeasures set and a central digital computer.

The pilot's head-up display projects on the windscreen all essential flight information gathered by the integrated avionics system. This display, visible in any light condition, provides information necessary to track and destroy an enemy aircraft without having to look down at cockpit instruments.

F-15 Eagle: OVER THE PACIFIC OCEAN -- An F-15C from the 67th Fighter Squadron refuels in flight from a KC-135R, from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, June 28, 2001, while on a routine training mission over the Pacific ocean. Both units are stationed at Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Marvice Krause)F-15 Eagle: OVER THE PACIFIC OCEAN -- An F-15C from the 67th Fighter Squadron refuels in flight from a KC-135R, from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, June 28, 2001, while on a routine training mission over the Pacific ocean. Both units are stationed at Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Marvice Krause)

The F-15's versatile pulse-Doppler radar system can look up at high-flying targets and down at low-flying targets without being confused by ground clutter. It can detect and track aircraft and small high-speed targets at distances beyond visual range down to close range, and at altitudes down to treetop level. The radar feeds target information into the central computer for effective weapons delivery. For close-in dogfights, the radar automatically acquires enemy aircraft, and this information is projected on the head-up display. The F-15's electronic warfare system provides both threat warning and automatic countermeasures against selected threats.

A variety of air-to-air weaponry can be carried by the F-15. An automated weapon system enables the pilot to perform aerial combat safely and effectively, using the head-up display and the avionics and weapons controls located on the engine throttles or control stick. When the pilot changes from one weapon system to another, visual guidance for the required weapon automatically appears on the head-up display.

The Eagle can be armed with combinations of four different air-to-air weapons: AIM-7F/M Sparrow missiles or AIM-120 advanced medium range air-to-air missiles on its lower fuselage corners, AIM-9L/M Sidewinder or AIM-120 missiles on two pylons under the wings, and an internal 20mm Gatling gun in the right wing root.

The F-15E is a two-seat, dual-role, totally integrated fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and deep interdiction missions. The rear cockpit is upgraded to include four multi-purpose CRT displays for aircraft systems and weapons management. The digital, triple-redundant Lear Siegler flight control system permits coupled automatic terrain following, enhanced by a ring-laser gyro inertial navigation system.

For low-altitude, high-speed penetration and precision attack on tactical targets at night or in adverse weather, the F-15E carries a high-resolution APG-70 radar and low-altitude navigation and targeting infrared for night pods

Background

The first F-15A flight was made in July 1972, and the first flight of the two-seat F-15B (formerly TF-15A) trainer was made in July 1973. The first Eagle (F-15B) was delivered in November 1974. In January 1976, the first Eagle destined for a combat squadron was delivered.

The single-seat F-15C and two-seat F-15D models entered the Air Force inventory beginning in 1979. These new models have Production Eagle Package (PEP 2000) improvements, including 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms) of additional internal fuel, provision for carrying exterior conformal fuel tanks and increased maximum takeoff weight of up to 68,000 pounds (30,600 kilograms).

F-15 Eagle: The F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. The Eagle's air superiority is achieved through a mixture of unprecedented maneuverability and acceleration, range, weapons and avionics. It can penetrate enemy defense and outperform and outfight any current or projected enemy aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo)F-15 Eagle: The F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. The Eagle's air superiority is achieved through a mixture of unprecedented maneuverability and acceleration, range, weapons and avionics. It can penetrate enemy defense and outperform and outfight any current or projected enemy aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The F-15 Multistage Improvement Program was initiated in February 1983, with the first production MSIP F-15C produced in 1985. Improvements included an upgraded central computer; a Programmable Armament Control Set, allowing for advanced versions of the AIM-7, AIM-9, and AIM-120A missiles; and an expanded Tactical Electronic Warfare System that provides improvements to the ALR-56C radar warning receiver and ALQ-135 countermeasure set. The final 43 included a Hughes APG-70 radar.

F-15C, D and E models were deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1991 in support of Operation Desert Storm where they proved their superior combat capability. F-15C fighters accounted for 34 of the 37 Air Force air-to-air victories. F-15E's were operated mainly at night, hunting SCUD missile launchers and artillery sites using the LANTIRN system.

They have since been deployed for air expeditionary force deployments and operations Southern Watch (no-fly zone in Southern Iraq), Provide Comfort in Turkey, Allied Force in Bosnia, Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Iraqi Freedom in Iraq.

F-15 Eagle: OVER THE PACIFIC OCEAN -- An F-15C from the 67th Fighter Squadron prepares to refuel in flight from a KC-135R, from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, June 28, 2001, while on a routine training mission over the Pacific ocean. Both units are stationed at Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Marvice Krause)F-15 Eagle: OVER THE PACIFIC OCEAN -- An F-15C from the 67th Fighter Squadron prepares to refuel in flight from a KC-135R, from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, June 28, 2001, while on a routine training mission over the Pacific ocean. Both units are stationed at Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Marvice Krause)

General Characteristics

Primary function: Tactical fighter

Contractor: McDonnell Douglas Corp.

Power plant: Two Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-100, 220 or 229 turbofan engines with afterburners

Thrust: (C/D models) 23,450 pounds each engine
Wingspan: 42.8 feet (13 meters)
Length: 63.8 feet (19.44 meters)
Height: 18.5 feet (5.6 meters)
Weight: 31,700 pounds
Maximum takeoff weight: (C/D models) 68,000 pounds (30,844 kilograms)
Fuel Capacity: 36,200 pounds (three external plus conformal fuel tanks)
Payload: depends on mission
Speed: 1,875 mph (Mach 2 class)
Ceiling: 65,000 feet (19,812 meters)

Range: 3,450 miles (3,000 nautical miles) ferry range with conformal fuel tanks and three external fuel tanks

Crew: F-15A/C: one. F-15B/D/E: two

Armament: One internally mounted M-61A1 20mm 20-mm, six-barrel cannon with 940 rounds of ammunition; four AIM-9L/M Sidewinder and four AIM-7F/M Sparrow air-to-air missiles, or eight AIM-120 AMRAAMs, carried externally.

Unit Cost: A/B models - $27.9 million (fiscal 98 constant dollars);C/D models - $29.9 million (fiscal 98 constant dollars)

Initial operating capability: September 1975

Inventory: Total force, 522

Source: USAF

Detailed background:

Source: wikipedia.org

The McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F-15 Eagle is an all-weather tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. It was developed for the United States Air Force, and first flew in July 1972. The F-15E Strike Eagle derivative is an all-weather strike fighter that entered service in 1989. The U.S. Air Force plans to keep the F-15 in service until 2025.

Development

Origins

During the mid-1960s U.S. Air Force intelligence was surprised to find that the Soviet Union was building a large fighter aircraft, known as the MiG-25 'Foxbat'. It was not known in the West at the time that the MiG-25 was designed as a high-speed interceptor, not an air superiority fighter; as such, its primary asset was speed, not maneuverability. The MiG-25's huge tailplanes and vertical stabilizers (tail fins) hinted at a very maneuverable aircraft, which worried the Air Force that its performance might be higher than its American counterparts. In reality, the MiG's large fins and stabilators were necessary to prevent the aircraft from encountering inertia coupling in high-speed, high-altitude flight.

The F-4 Phantom II of the USAF and U.S. Navy was the only fighter with enough power, range and maneuverability to be given the primary task of dealing with the threat of Soviet fighters while flying with visual engagement rules. As a matter of policy, the Phantoms could not engage targets without positive visual identification, so they could not engage targets at long ranges, as designed. Medium-range AIM-7 Sparrow missiles, and to a lesser degree even the AIM-9 Sidewinder, were often unreliable and ineffective at close ranges where it was found that guns were often the only effective weapon.

The Phantom did not originally have a gun, as it was intended that only missiles would be used to engage slowly moving and maneuvering Warsaw Pact bombers and fighters at longer ranges. Experience in Vietnam showed this not to be the case and led to the addition of a gun. At first an external gun pod was tried but that proved inaccurate and increased drag. Later, the 20 mm M61 Vulcan was integrated internally on the F-4E.

F-X program

There was a clear need for a new fighter that overcame the close-range limitation of the Phantom while retaining long-range air superiority. After rejecting the U.S. Navy VFX program (which led to the F-14 Tomcat) as being unsuited to its needs, the U.S. Air Force issued its own requirements for the Fighter Experimental (F-X), a specification for a relatively lightweight air superiority fighter. Four companies submitted proposals, with the Air Force eliminating General Dynamics and selecting Fairchild Republic, North American Rockwell, and McDonnell Douglas for the definition phase in December 1968. The companies submitted technical proposals by June 1969. The Air Force announced the selection of McDonnell Douglas on December 23, 1969. The winning design resembled the twin-tailed F-14, but with fixed wings. It would not be significantly lighter or smaller than the F-4 that it would replace.

The Eagle's initial versions were designated F-15A for the single-seat configuration and F-15B (originally TF-15A, but this designation was quickly deprecated, as the F-15B is fully combat-capable) for the twin-seat. These versions would be powered by new Pratt & Whitney F100 engines to achieve a combat thrust-to-weight ratio in excess of 1 to 1. A proposed 25 mm Ford-Philco GAU-7 cannon with caseless ammunition was dropped in favor of the standard M61 Vulcan gun due to development problems. The F-15 retained conformal carriage of four Sparrow missiles like the Phantom. The fixed wing was put onto a flat, wide fuselage that also provided an effective lifting surface. Some questioned if the zoom performance of the F-15 with Sparrow missiles was enough to deal with the new threat of the high-flying MiG-25 "Foxbat"; its capability would eventually be demonstrated in combat.

F-15 Eagle: The F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. The Eagle's air superiority is achieved through a mixture of unprecedented maneuverability and acceleration, range, weapons and avionics. It can penetrate enemy defense and outperform and outfight any current or projected enemy aircraft. (U.S. Air Force Photo)F-15 Eagle: The F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. The Eagle's air superiority is achieved through a mixture of unprecedented maneuverability and acceleration, range, weapons and avionics. It can penetrate enemy defense and outperform and outfight any current or projected enemy aircraft. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

The first F-15A flight was made in July 1972 with the first flight of the two-seat F-15B (formerly TF-15A) following in July 1973.

The F-15 has a "look-down/shoot-down" radar that can distinguish low-flying moving targets from ground clutter. The F-15 would use computer technology with new controls and displays to lower pilot workload and require only one pilot to save weight. Unlike the F-14 or F-4, the F-15 has only a single canopy frame with clear vision forward. The USAF introduced the F-15 as "the first dedicated USAF air superiority fighter since the F-86 Sabre."

The F-15 would be favored by customers such as the Israel Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force, and the development of the F-15E Strike Eagle would produce a strike fighter that would replace the F-111. However, criticism from the fighter mafia that the F-15 was too large to be a dedicated dogfighter, and too expensive to procure in large numbers to replace the F-4 and A-7, led to the Lightweight Fighter (LWF) program, which led to the USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon and the middle-weight Navy F/A-18 Hornet.

The single-seat F-15C and two-seat F-15D models entered production in 1978 with the models' first flights in February and June of that year. These new models have Production Eagle Package (PEP 2000) improvements, including 2,000 lb (900 kg) of additional internal fuel, provision for carrying exterior conformal fuel tanks and increased maximum takeoff weight of up to 68,000 lb (30,700 kg). Improvements

The F-15 Multistage Improvement Program (MSIP) was initiated in February 1983 with the first production MSIP F-15C produced in 1985. Improvements included an upgraded central computer; a Programmable Armament Control Set, allowing for advanced versions of the AIM-7, AIM-9, and AIM-120A missiles; and an expanded Tactical Electronic Warfare System that provides improvements to the ALR-56C radar warning receiver and ALQ-135 countermeasure set. The final 43 included the enhanced-capability Hughes APG-70 radar, which was carried forward into the F-15E. The earlier MSIP F-15Cs with the APG-63 were later upgraded to the APG-63(V)1, which significantly improves reliability and maintainability while providing performance similar to the APG-70. The improvements were retrofitted to existing F-15s.

Design

The F-15 has an all-metal semi-monocoque fuselage with a large cantilever shoulder-mounted wing. The empennage is all-metal twin fins and rudders with all-moving horizontal tail surfaces outboard of the fins. The F-15 has a spine-mounted air brake and retractable tricycle landing gear. It is powered by two Pratt & Whitney F100 axial-flow turbofan engines with afterburners mounted side-by-side in the fuselage. The cockpit is mounted high in the forward fuselage with a one-piece windscreen and large canopy to increase visibility.

The F-15's maneuverability is derived from low wing loading (weight to wing area ratio) with a high thrust-to-weight ratio enabling the aircraft to turn tightly without losing airspeed. The F-15 can climb to 30,000 feet (10,000 m) in around 60 seconds. The thrust output of the dual engines is greater than the aircraft's weight, thus giving it the ability to accelerate in a vertical climb. The weapons and flight control systems are designed so that one person can safely and effectively perform air-to-air combat. The "A" and "C" models are single-seat variants that make up the bulk of F-15 production. "B" and "D" models add a second seat behind the pilot for training. "E" models use the second seat for a bombardier/navigator.

A multi-mission avionics system includes a head-up display (HUD), advanced radar, inertial guidance system (INS), flight instruments, ultra high frequency (UHF) communications, and Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN) and Instrument Landing System (ILS) receivers. It also has an internally mounted, tactical electronic-warfare system, "identification friend or foe" system, electronic countermeasures suite and a central digital computer.

The heads-up display projects, through a combiner, all essential flight information gathered by the integrated avionics system. This display, visible in any light condition, provides the pilot information necessary to track and destroy an enemy aircraft without having to look down at cockpit instruments.

The F-15's versatile APG-63/70 Pulse-Doppler radar system can look up at high-flying targets and down at low-flying targets without being confused by ground clutter. It can detect and track aircraft and small high-speed targets at distances beyond visual range (the maximum being 120 nautical miles (220 km) away) down to close range, and at altitudes down to treetop level. The radar feeds target information into the central computer for effective weapons delivery. The capability of locking onto targets as far as 50 nautical miles (90 km) with an AIM-120 AMRAAM enables true beyond visual range (BVR) engagement of targets. For close-in dogfights, the radar automatically acquires enemy aircraft, and this information is projected on the head-up display. The F-15's electronic warfare system provides both threat warning and automatic countermeasures against selected threats.

A variety of air-to-air weaponry can be carried by the F-15. An automated weapon system enables the pilot to perform aerial combat safely and effectively, using the head-up display and the avionics and weapons controls located on the engine throttles or control stick. When the pilot changes from one weapon system to another, visual guidance for the required weapon automatically appears on the head-up display.

The Eagle can be armed with combinations of four different air-to-air weapons: AIM-7F/M Sparrow missiles or AIM-120 AMRAAM advanced medium range air-to-air missiles on its lower fuselage corners, AIM-9L/M Sidewinder or AIM-120 missiles on two pylons under the wings, and an internal M61A-1 20 mm Gatling gun in the right wing root.

Low-drag conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) were developed for the F-15C and D models. They can be attached to the sides of the engine air intake trunks under each wing and are designed to the same load factors and airspeed limits as the basic aircraft. However, they degrade performance by increasing drag and cannot be jettisoned in-flight (unlike conventional external tanks). Each conformal fuel tank can hold 750 U.S. gallons (2,840 L) of fuel. These tanks increase range thus reducing the need for in-flight refueling. All external stations for munitions remain available with the tanks in use. Moreover, Sparrow or AMRAAM missiles can be attached to the corners of the conformal fuel tanks. The 57 FIS based at Keflavik NAS, Iceland was the only C-model squadron to utilize CFT's on a regular basis due to its extended operations over the North Atlantic. With the closure of the 57 FIS the F-15E is the only U.S. variant to carry them on a routine basis. The American CFTs were also provided to Israel and Saudi Arabia but only Israel uses them (as needed) on their entire fleet.

F-15 Eagle: OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO -- Two F-15E from the 90th Fighter Squadron, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, fire a pair of AIM-7Ms during a training mission. The mission took place over the Gulf of Mexico just off the coast of Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo)F-15 Eagle: OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO -- Two F-15E from the 90th Fighter Squadron, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, fire a pair of AIM-7Ms during a training mission. The mission took place over the Gulf of Mexico just off the coast of Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The F-15E Strike Eagle is a two-seat, dual-role, totally integrated fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and deep interdiction missions. The rear cockpit is upgraded to include four multi-purpose CRT displays for aircraft systems and weapons management. The digital, triple-redundant Lear Siegler flight control system permits coupled automatic terrain following, enhanced by a ring-laser gyro inertial navigation system. For low-altitude, high-speed penetration and precision attack on tactical targets at night or in adverse weather, the F-15E carries a high-resolution APG-70 radar and LANTIRN pods to provide thermal imagery.

The APG-63(V)2 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar has been retrofitted to 18 U.S. Air Force F-15C aircraft. This upgrade includes most of the new hardware from the APG-63(V)1, but adds an AESA to provide increased pilot situational awareness. The AESA radar has an exceptionally agile beam, providing nearly instantaneous track updates and enhanced multi-target tracking capability. The APG-63(V)2 is compatible with current F-15C weapon loads and enables pilots to take full advantage of AIM-120 AMRAAM capabilities, simultaneously guiding multiple missiles to several targets widely spaced in azimuth, elevation, or range.

Operational history

The largest operator of the F-15 is the United States Air Force. The first Eagle (F-15B) was delivered November 14, 1974. In January 1976, the first Eagle destined for a combat squadron, the 555th TFS, was delivered. These initial aircraft carried the Hughes Aircraft (now Raytheon) APG-63 radar.

The first kill in an F-15 was by IAF ace Moshe Melnik in 1979. In 1979–81 during Israeli-Lebanese border disputes, F-15As downed 13 Syrian MiG-21 "Fishbeds" and two Syrian MiG-25 "Foxbats", the latter being the aircraft the F-15 was designed to kill. F-15A and B models were used by Israel during the Bekaa Valley operation. During the 1982 Lebanon War, the Israeli F-15s shot down 40 Syrian jet fighters (23 MiG-21 "Fishbeds" and 17 MiG-23 "Floggers") and one Syrian SA.342L Gazelle helicopter.

Royal Saudi Air Force F-15C pilots shot down two F-4E Phantom IIs flown by the Iranian Air Force in a border skirmish in June 1984, and shot down two Iraqi Mirage F1s during the Gulf War.

The USAF deployed F-15C, D and E models to the Persian Gulf in 1991 in support of Operation Desert Storm where they accounted for 36 of the 39 Air Force air-to-air victories. F-15Es were operated mainly at night, hunting modified SCUD missile launchers and artillery sites using the LANTIRN system. According to the USAF, its F-15Cs had 34 confirmed kills of Iraqi aircraft during the 1991 Gulf War, mostly by missile fire: five MiG-29 "Fulcrums", two MiG-25 "Foxbats", eight MiG-23 "Floggers", two MiG-21 "Fishbeds", two Su-25 "Frogfoots", four Su-22 "Fitters", one Su-7, six Mirage F1s, one Il-76 cargo plane, one Pilatus PC-9 trainer, and two Mi-8 helicopters. After air superiority was achieved in the first three days of the conflict, many of the later kills were reportedly of Iraqi aircraft fleeing to Iran, rather than actively trying to engage U.S. aircraft. The single-seat F-15C was used for air superiority, and the F-15E was heavily used in air-to-ground attacks. An F-15E achieved an aerial kill of another Iraqi Mi-8 helicopter using a laser-guided bomb during the air war. The F-15E sustained two losses to ground fire in the Gulf War in 1991. Another one was damaged on the ground by a SCUD strike on Dhahran air base.

They have since been deployed to support Operation Southern Watch, the patrolling of the No-Fly Zone in Southern Iraq; Operation Provide Comfort in Turkey; in support of NATO operations in Bosnia, and recent air expeditionary force deployments. In 1994, two U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawks were downed by USAF F-15Cs who thought they were Iraq Hinds in the Northern no-fly zone of Iraq in a friendly fire incident. USAF F-15Cs shot down four Yugoslav MiG-29s using AIM-120 missiles during NATO's 1999 intervention in Kosovo, Operation Allied Force.

As of 2008, the F-15 in all air forces has an air-to-air combined kill record of 104 kills to 0 losses in air combat. To date, no air superiority versions of the F-15 (A/B/C/D models) have ever been shot down by enemy forces. Over half of the F-15's kills were made by Israeli Air Force pilots.

Satellite killer

From January 1984 to September 1986, two F-15As were used as launch platforms for the ASM-135 anti-satellite (ASAT) missile. The F-15As (76-0086 and 77-0084) were modified to carry one ASM-135 on the centerline station with extra equipment within a special centerline pylon. The launch aircraft executed a Mach 1.22, 3.8 g climb at 65° to release the ASAT missile at an altitude of 38,100 feet (11.6 km). The flight computer was updated to control the zoom-climb and missile release. The third test flight involved a retired communications satellite in a 345 statute mile (555 km) orbit, which was successfully destroyed by kinetic energy. The pilot, USAF Major Wilbert D. "Doug" Pearson, became the only pilot to destroy a satellite.

The ASAT missile was designed to be a standoff anti-satellite weapon, with the F-15A acting as a first stage. The Soviet Union could interpret a U.S. rocket launch with a spy satellite loss, but an F-15 carrying an ASAT would blend in among hundreds of F-15 flights. The ASAT program involved five test launches; however, the missile was not known to have entered service. The program was officially terminated in 1988. Grounded by USAF

All F-15 aircraft were grounded by the U.S. Air Force after a Missouri Air National Guard F-15C came apart in flight and crashed on November 2, 2007. The newer F-15E fleet was later cleared for continued operations. The U.S. Air Force reported on November 28, 2007 that a critical location in the upper longerons on the F-15C model was suspected of causing the failure, causing the fuselage forward of the air intakes, including the cockpit and radome, to separate from the airframe.

F-15A through D-model aircraft were ordered grounded until the location received more detailed inspections and repairs as needed. The grounding of F-15s received media attention as it began to place strains on the nation's air defense efforts. The grounding forced some states to rely on their neighbors' fighter jets for air defense protection, and Alaska to depend on Canadian Forces' support.

On January 8, 2008, the USAF Air Combat Command (ACC) cleared a portion of its F-15A through D-model fleet for return to flying status. It also recommended a limited return to flight for units worldwide using the affected models. The accident review board report was released on January 10, 2008. The report stated that analysis of the F-15C wreckage determined that the longeron did not meet drawing specifications, which led to fatigue cracks and finally a catastrophic failure of the remaining support structures and breakup of the aircraft in flight. In a report released in January 10, 2008, nine other F-15s were identified to have similar problems in the longeron. As a result of these problems, General John D. W. Corley stated that "the long-term future of the F-15 is in question." On February 15, 2008 ACC cleared all its grounded F-15A-D fighters for flight pending inspections, engineering reviews and any needed repairs. ACC also recommended release of other U.S. F-15A-D aircraft.

F-15 Eagle: F-15A Eagle launches an AIM-7 Sparrow missile during a Weapons System Evaluation Program. The F-15 is from of the 110th Fighter Squadron, 131st Fighter Wing, Air National Guard, Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, Mo.F-15 Eagle: F-15A Eagle launches an AIM-7 Sparrow missile during a Weapons System Evaluation Program. The F-15 is from of the 110th Fighter Squadron, 131st Fighter Wing, Air National Guard, Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, Mo.

Future

The F-15C/D model is being supplanted in U.S. service by the F-22 Raptor. The F-15E, however, will remain in service for years to come because of its different air-to-ground role and the lower number of hours on their airframes. On September 26, 2006, at the Air Force Association's Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition in Washington D.C., the USAF announced their plan to upgrade 178 F-15C fighters with the AN/APG-63(V)3 AESA radar. Additionally, the Air Force also plans to upgrade other F-15s with the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS). In keeping with that plan, the Air Force then contracted with Boeing to retrofit F-15Cs with the AN/APG-63(V)3 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars with delivery beginning in early 2009. The Air Force will keep 178 F-15Cs as well as the 224 F-15Es in service beyond 2025.

Variants

Basic models

F-15A

Single-seat all-weather air-superiority fighter version, 384 built 1972-79.

F-15B

Two-seat training version, formerly designated TF-15A, 61 built 1972-79.

F-15C

Improved single-seat all-weather air-superiority fighter version, 483 built 1979-85.

F-15D

Two-seat training version, 92 built 1979-85.

F-15J

Single-seat all-weather air-superiority fighter version for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force 139 built under license in Japan by Mitsubishi 1981-97, 2 built in St. Louis.

F-15DJ

Two-seat training version for the Japan Air Self-Defence Force. 25 Built under license in Japan by Mitsubishi 1981-97, 12 built in St. Louis.

F-15N Sea Eagle

The F-15N was a carrier-capable variant proposed in the early 1970s to the U.S. Navy as an alternative to the heavier and, at the time, considered as "riskier" technology program: F-14 Tomcat. The F-15N-PHX was another proposed naval version capable of carrying the AIM-54 Phoenix missile. These featured folding wingtips, reinforced landing gear and a stronger tail hook for shipboard operation.

F-15E and related

F-15E Strike Eagle

Two-seat all-weather long-range strike and ground-attack aircraft for the U.S. Air Force, 237 built 1985-2001.

F-15F Strike Eagle

Proposed single seat model of the F-15E.

F-15H Strike Eagle

Export model of the F-15E Strike Eagle for Hellenic Air Force (canceled)

F-15I Ra'am (Thunder)

Advanced version of the F-15E Strike Eagle for the Israeli Air Force, 25 built 1996-98.

F-15K Slam Eagle

Advanced version of the F-15E Strike Eagle for the Republic of Korea Air Force, 40 built 2005-08.

F-15S Strike Eagle

Export version of the F-15E Strike Eagle for the Royal Saudi Air Force, 72 built 1996-98.

F-15SG Strike Eagle

Advanced version of the F-15E Strike Eagle for the Republic of Singapore Air Force. Variant was formerly designated F-15T.

F-15 Eagle: Three F-15C and one F-15D aircraft fly next to Mt. Fuji. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Marvin Krause)F-15 Eagle: Three F-15C and one F-15D aircraft fly next to Mt. Fuji. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Marvin Krause)

Research and test

F-15 Streak Eagle (72-0119)

One stripped and unpainted F-15A, demonstrated the fighter's acceleration – broke eight time-to-climb world records between January 16 and February 1, 1975. It was delivered to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in December 1980.

F-15 S/MTD (71-0290)

The first F-15B was converted into a short takeoff and landing, maneuver technology demonstrator aircraft.

F-15 ACTIVE (71-0290)

The F-15 S/MTD was later converted into an advanced flight control technology research aircraft with thrust vectoring nozzles.

F-15 IFCS (71-0290)

The F-15 ACTIVE was then converted into an intelligent flight control systems research aircraft.

F-15 MANX

Concept name for a tailless variant of the F-15 ACTIVE, but the NASA ACTIVE experimental aircraft was never modified to be tailless.

F-15 Flight Research Facility (71-0281 and 71-0287)

Two F-15A aircraft were acquired in 1976 for use by NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center for numerous experiments such as: Highly Integrated Digital Electronic Control (HiDEC), Adaptive Engine Control System (ADECS), Self-Repairing and Self-Diagnostic Flight Control System (SRFCS) and Propulsion Controlled Aircraft System (PCA). 71-0281 was returned to the Air Force and became a static display at Langley AFB in 1983.

F-15B Research Testbed (74-0141)

Acquired in 1993, it is a highly modified F-15B used by NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center.

Notable accidents and incidents

On May 1, 1983, during an Israeli Air Force training dogfight, a F-15D collided with a A-4 Skyhawk. Unknown to pilot Zivi Nedivi, and his copilot, the right wing of the Eagle was torn off roughly two feet (60 cm) from the fuselage. The pilot managed to regain control of the aircraft and prevented it from stalling, ultimately landing the crippled aircraft successfully. The F-15 was able to stay in the air because of the lift generated by the large horizontal surface area of the fuselage, the large and effective stabilators and the surviving wing. Landing at twice the normal speed to maintain the necessary lift, although the tailhook was torn off completely during the landing, Zivi managed to bring his F-15 to a complete stop approximately 20 feet (6 m) from the end of the runway. He was later quoted as saying "(I) probably would have ejected if I knew what had happened."

On November 22, 1995, during air-intercept training over the Sea of Japan, a Japanese F-15J was shot-down by a AIM-9L sidewinder missile accidentally fired by his wingman. The pilot, Lt. Tatsumi Higuchi, ejected safely. Both F-15Js involved were from JASDF 303rd Squadron, Komatsu AFB.

On November 2, 2007, a 25-year-old F-15C (s/n 80-0034 of the 131st Fighter Wing) crashed during air combat maneuvering training near St. Louis, Missouri. The pilot, Maj. Stephen W. Stilwell, ejected but suffered serious injuries. The crash was the result of an in-flight breakup due to structural failure. On November 3, 2007, all non-mission critical models of the F-15 were grounded pending the outcome of the crash investigation, and on the following day, grounded non-mission critical F-15s engaged in combat missions in the Middle East. By November 13, 2007 over 1,100 were grounded worldwide after Israel, Japan and Saudi Arabia grounded their aircraft as well. F-15Es were cleared on November 15, 2007 pending aircraft passing inspections. On January 8, 2008, the USAF cleared 60 percent of the F-15A-D fleet for return to flight. On January 10, 2008, the accident review board released its report stating the November 2 crash was related to the longeron not meeting drawing specifications. The Air Force cleared all its grounded F-15A-D fighters for flight on February 15, 2008 pending inspections, reviews and any needed repairs. In March 2008, Stilwell, the injured pilot, filed a lawsuit against Boeing, the F-15's manufacturer.

More photos:

F-15 Eagle: OVER THE PACIFIC OCEAN -- An F-15C from the 67th Fighter Squadron prepares to refuel in flight from a KC-135R, from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, June 28, 2001, while on a routine training mission over the Pacific ocean. Both units are stationed at Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Marvice Krause)F-15 Eagle: OVER THE PACIFIC OCEAN -- An F-15C from the 67th Fighter Squadron prepares to refuel in flight from a KC-135R, from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, June 28, 2001, while on a routine training mission over the Pacific ocean. Both units are stationed at Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Marvice Krause)

F-15 Eagle: OVER THE PACIFIC OCEAN -- An F-15C from the 67th Fighter Squadron refuels in flight from a KC-135R, from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, June 28, 2001, while on a routine training mission over the Pacific ocean. Both units are stationed at Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Marvice Krause)F-15 Eagle: OVER THE PACIFIC OCEAN -- An F-15C from the 67th Fighter Squadron refuels in flight from a KC-135R, from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, June 28, 2001, while on a routine training mission over the Pacific ocean. Both units are stationed at Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Marvice Krause)

F-15 Eagle: Three F-15C and one F-15D aircraft fly next to Mt. Fuji. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Marvin Krause)F-15 Eagle: Three F-15C and one F-15D aircraft fly next to Mt. Fuji. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Marvin Krause)

F-15 Eagle: OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH -- An F-15 Eagle waits on Oct. 27, 2000, for the boom of a KC-135 Stratotanker over Saudi Arabia. The F-15s are a part of the coalition forces of the 363d Air Expeditionary Wing who enforces the no-fly and no-drive zone in Southern Iraq to protect and defend against Iraqi aggression. (U.S. Air force photo by Staff Sgt. Sean M. Worrell)F-15 Eagle: OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH -- An F-15 Eagle waits on Oct. 27, 2000, for the boom of a KC-135 Stratotanker over Saudi Arabia. The F-15s are a part of the coalition forces of the 363d Air Expeditionary Wing who enforces the no-fly and no-drive zone in Southern Iraq to protect and defend against Iraqi aggression. (U.S. Air force photo by Staff Sgt. Sean M. Worrell)

F-15 Eagle: A B-1B Lancer and an F-15 Eagle fly in formation. The B-1B is a long-range strategic bomber with a top speed more than 900 mph. It is capable of flying intercontinental missions without refueling. The F-15 Eagle is the Air Force's premier air-to-air fighter. Both will be on display at the Istres Air Show, Istres, France, May 20. (U.S. Air Force file photo by Senior Airman Greg Davis)F-15 Eagle: A B-1B Lancer and an F-15 Eagle fly in formation. The B-1B is a long-range strategic bomber with a top speed more than 900 mph. It is capable of flying intercontinental missions without refueling. The F-15 Eagle is the Air Force's premier air-to-air fighter. Both will be on display at the Istres Air Show, Istres, France, May 20. (U.S. Air Force file photo by Senior Airman Greg Davis)

F-15 Eagle: OPERATION ALLIED FORCE -- An F-15C Eagle from the 48th Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, breaks away from a 100th Air Expeditionary Wing KC-135R Stratotanker from Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England. Armed with AIM-7 Sparrow missiles on the fuselage, AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles on the inboard wing pylon, and Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles on the outboard wing pylon, the Eagles are flying Combat Air Patrol missions to maintain air superiority and protect Operation Allied Force aircraft. (U.S. Air Force Photo)F-15 Eagle: OPERATION ALLIED FORCE -- An F-15C Eagle from the 48th Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, breaks away from a 100th Air Expeditionary Wing KC-135R Stratotanker from Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England. Armed with AIM-7 Sparrow missiles on the fuselage, AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles on the inboard wing pylon, and Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles on the outboard wing pylon, the Eagles are flying Combat Air Patrol missions to maintain air superiority and protect Operation Allied Force aircraft. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

F-15 Eagle: EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- An F-15 Eagle from the 445th Flight Test Squadron here banks over mountains in the Sequoia National Forest. The F-15 was flying as a chase aircraft during recent B-1B bomber tests. Throughout the years, Edwards has evaluated the world's current premier air superiority fighter for engine enhancements, radar improvements and weapons additions.(U.S. Air Force photo by George Rolhmaller)F-15 Eagle: EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- An F-15 Eagle from the 445th Flight Test Squadron here banks over mountains in the Sequoia National Forest. The F-15 was flying as a chase aircraft during recent B-1B bomber tests. Throughout the years, Edwards has evaluated the world's current premier air superiority fighter for engine enhancements, radar improvements and weapons additions.(U.S. Air Force photo by George Rolhmaller)

F-15 Eagle: The F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. The Eagle's air superiority is achieved through a mixture of unprecedented maneuverability and acceleration, range, weapons and avionics. It can penetrate enemy defense and outperform and outfight any current or projected enemy aircraft. (U.S. Air Force Photo)F-15 Eagle: The F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. The Eagle's air superiority is achieved through a mixture of unprecedented maneuverability and acceleration, range, weapons and avionics. It can penetrate enemy defense and outperform and outfight any current or projected enemy aircraft. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

F-15 Eagle: The F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to permit the Air Force to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. The Eagle's air superiority is achieved through a mixture of unprecedented maneuverability and acceleration, range, weapons and avionics. It can penetrate enemy defense and outperform and outfight any current enemy aircraft. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Dave Nolan)F-15 Eagle: The F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to permit the Air Force to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. The Eagle's air superiority is achieved through a mixture of unprecedented maneuverability and acceleration, range, weapons and avionics. It can penetrate enemy defense and outperform and outfight any current enemy aircraft. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Dave Nolan)

F-15 Eagle: F-15A Eagle launches an AIM-7 Sparrow missile during a Weapons System Evaluation Program. The F-15 is from of the 110th Fighter Squadron, 131st Fighter Wing, Air National Guard, Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, Mo.F-15 Eagle: F-15A Eagle launches an AIM-7 Sparrow missile during a Weapons System Evaluation Program. The F-15 is from of the 110th Fighter Squadron, 131st Fighter Wing, Air National Guard, Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, Mo.

F-15 Eagle: NAHA, OKINAWA, Japan -- Lt. Gen. Paul Hester (in foreground), 5th Air Force commander, and 67th Fighter Squadron commander Lt. Col. James Browne fly their F-15C Eagles from the 18th Wing, Kadena Air Base, Japan, near the coast of Naha, Okinawa, Japan, during a training mission. (U.S. Air Force by Master Sgt. Marvin Krause)F-15 Eagle: NAHA, OKINAWA, Japan -- Lt. Gen. Paul Hester (in foreground), 5th Air Force commander, and 67th Fighter Squadron commander Lt. Col. James Browne fly their F-15C Eagles from the 18th Wing, Kadena Air Base, Japan, near the coast of Naha, Okinawa, Japan, during a training mission. (U.S. Air Force by Master Sgt. Marvin Krause)

F-15 Eagle: NAHA, OKINAWA, Japan -- Lt. Gen. Paul Hester (in foreground), 5th Air Force commander, and 67th Fighter Squadron commander Lt. Col. James Browne fly their F-15C Eagles from the 18th Wing, Kadena Air Base, Japan, near the coast of Naha, Okinawa, Japan, during a training mission. (U.S. Air Force by Master Sgt. Marvin Krause)F-15 Eagle: NAHA, OKINAWA, Japan -- Lt. Gen. Paul Hester (in foreground), 5th Air Force commander, and 67th Fighter Squadron commander Lt. Col. James Browne fly their F-15C Eagles from the 18th Wing, Kadena Air Base, Japan, near the coast of Naha, Okinawa, Japan, during a training mission. (U.S. Air Force by Master Sgt. Marvin Krause)

F-15 Eagle: The F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. The Eagle's air superiority is achieved through a mixture of unprecedented maneuverability and acceleration, range, weapons and avionics. It can penetrate enemy defense and outperform and outfight any current or projected enemy aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo)F-15 Eagle: The F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. The Eagle's air superiority is achieved through a mixture of unprecedented maneuverability and acceleration, range, weapons and avionics. It can penetrate enemy defense and outperform and outfight any current or projected enemy aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo)

F-15 Eagle: The F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. The Eagle's air superiority is achieved through a mixture of unprecedented maneuverability and acceleration, range, weapons and avionics. It can penetrate enemy defense and outperform and outfight any current or projected enemy aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo)F-15 Eagle: The F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. The Eagle's air superiority is achieved through a mixture of unprecedented maneuverability and acceleration, range, weapons and avionics. It can penetrate enemy defense and outperform and outfight any current or projected enemy aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo)

F-15 Eagle: An Air Force F-15 Eagle from the 95th Fighter Squadron, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., takes off for a mission during exercise Roving Sands '99. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Myles Cullen)F-15 Eagle: An Air Force F-15 Eagle from the 95th Fighter Squadron, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., takes off for a mission during exercise Roving Sands '99. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Myles Cullen)

F-15 Eagle: CERVIA AIR BASE, Italy -- An F-15 Eagle assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron, Royal Air Force, Lakenheath, England, takes-off from here. The 493rd FS deployed to Cervia to support airstrike operations in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Lozada)F-15 Eagle: CERVIA AIR BASE, Italy -- An F-15 Eagle assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron, Royal Air Force, Lakenheath, England, takes-off from here. The 493rd FS deployed to Cervia to support airstrike operations in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Lozada)

F-15 Eagle: OPERATION NOBLE EAGLE -- An F-15C Eagle from Langley Air Force Base, Va., flies over Washington during an early morning combat air patrol mission in support of Operation Noble Eagle. Operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom are not only a joint U.S. campaign, they are combined campaigns. Coalition allies have flown nearly 1,000 missions, highlighting international resolve in the war on terrorism. NATO partners deployed forces to the US for the first time to help defend American air space. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Greg L. Davis)F-15 Eagle: OPERATION NOBLE EAGLE -- An F-15C Eagle from Langley Air Force Base, Va., flies over Washington during an early morning combat air patrol mission in support of Operation Noble Eagle. Operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom are not only a joint U.S. campaign, they are combined campaigns. Coalition allies have flown nearly 1,000 missions, highlighting international resolve in the war on terrorism. NATO partners deployed forces to the US for the first time to help defend American air space. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Greg L. Davis)

F-15 Eagle: OPERATION NOBLE EAGLE -- Two F-15 Eagles from the Massachusetts Air National Guard's 102nd Fighter Wing fly a combat air patrol mission over New York City in support of Operation Noble Eagle. North American Aerospace Defense Command has more than 100 ANG and Air Force Reserve fighters from 26 locations providing homeland defense, with another 100 fighters backing them up. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Bill Ramsay)F-15 Eagle: OPERATION NOBLE EAGLE -- Two F-15 Eagles from the Massachusetts Air National Guard's 102nd Fighter Wing fly a combat air patrol mission over New York City in support of Operation Noble Eagle. North American Aerospace Defense Command has more than 100 ANG and Air Force Reserve fighters from 26 locations providing homeland defense, with another 100 fighters backing them up. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Bill Ramsay)

F-15 Eagle: Two Air-Defense Fighter F-16A Fighting Falcons from the North Dakota Air National Guard’s 178th Fighter Squadron lead an F-15C Eagle from the 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base, Va., in formation during a combat air patrol mission in support of Operation Noble Eagle. More than 11,000 airmen -- the majority Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve -- have generated more than 7,500 sorties to patrol American skies 24/7 since Sept. 11, 2001. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Greg L. Davis)F-15 Eagle: Two Air-Defense Fighter F-16A Fighting Falcons from the North Dakota Air National Guard’s 178th Fighter Squadron lead an F-15C Eagle from the 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base, Va., in formation during a combat air patrol mission in support of Operation Noble Eagle. More than 11,000 airmen -- the majority Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve -- have generated more than 7,500 sorties to patrol American skies 24/7 since Sept. 11, 2001. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Greg L. Davis)

F-15 Eagle: OPERATION NOBLE EAGLE -- An F-15 Eagle from the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 102nd Fighter Wing flies a combat air patrol mission over New York City in support of Operation Noble Eagle. More than 30,000 people in the ANG and Air Force Reserve have been called to active duty to support Operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Bill Ramsay)F-15 Eagle: OPERATION NOBLE EAGLE -- An F-15 Eagle from the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 102nd Fighter Wing flies a combat air patrol mission over New York City in support of Operation Noble Eagle. More than 30,000 people in the ANG and Air Force Reserve have been called to active duty to support Operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Bill Ramsay)

F-15 Eagle: CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK, Ore. -- F-15s from the 114th Fighter Squadron, Kinglsey Field Air National Guard Base, Klamath Falls, Ore., fly in formation over Crater Lake National Park. The 114th FS trains Air National Guard pilots to fly the F-15. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Allen)F-15 Eagle: CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK, Ore. -- F-15s from the 114th Fighter Squadron, Kinglsey Field Air National Guard Base, Klamath Falls, Ore., fly in formation over Crater Lake National Park. The 114th FS trains Air National Guard pilots to fly the F-15. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Allen)

F-15 Eagle: An F-15 Eagle enforces the Northern no-fly zones over Northern Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo)F-15 Eagle: An F-15 Eagle enforces the Northern no-fly zones over Northern Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo)

F-15 Eagle: A three-ship formation of F-15As from the 110th Fighter Squadron, 131st Fighter Wing, St. Louis Air National Guard, during a Weapons System Evaluation Program. The F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. The Eagle's air superiority is achieved through a mixture of maneuverability and acceleration, range, weapons and avionics. (U.S. Air Force Photo)F-15 Eagle: A three-ship formation of F-15As from the 110th Fighter Squadron, 131st Fighter Wing, St. Louis Air National Guard, during a Weapons System Evaluation Program. The F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. The Eagle's air superiority is achieved through a mixture of maneuverability and acceleration, range, weapons and avionics. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

F-15 Eagle: SOUTHWEST ASIA -- An F-15 Eagle from the 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., receives fuel from a tanker assigned to the 401st Air Expeditionary Wing, operating from a forward-deployed location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark Bucher)F-15 Eagle: SOUTHWEST ASIA -- An F-15 Eagle from the 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., receives fuel from a tanker assigned to the 401st Air Expeditionary Wing, operating from a forward-deployed location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark Bucher)

F-15 Eagle: OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM -- An F-15C Eagle turns away from a tanker aircraft after receiving a full fuel load high over the deserts of Southwest Asia. The F-15 is from the 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (U. S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark Bucher)F-15 Eagle: OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM -- An F-15C Eagle turns away from a tanker aircraft after receiving a full fuel load high over the deserts of Southwest Asia. The F-15 is from the 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (U. S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark Bucher)

F-15 Eagle: OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM -- An F-15C Eagle pilot completes an inflight refueling high over the Southwest Asia desert. The F-15C is operating from a forward-deployed location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark Bucher)F-15 Eagle: OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM -- An F-15C Eagle pilot completes an inflight refueling high over the Southwest Asia desert. The F-15C is operating from a forward-deployed location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark Bucher)

F-15 Eagle: OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM -- Two F-15 Eagles assigned to the 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing prepare to take off for a mission from a forward-deployed location in Southwest Asia on March 27. According to a defense official, coalition air forces are averaging about 1,000 sorties a night after the first week of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Air Force has also dropped more than 5,000 precision-guided munitions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Hannen)F-15 Eagle: OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM -- Two F-15 Eagles assigned to the 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing prepare to take off for a mission from a forward-deployed location in Southwest Asia on March 27. According to a defense official, coalition air forces are averaging about 1,000 sorties a night after the first week of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Air Force has also dropped more than 5,000 precision-guided munitions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Hannen)

F-15 Eagle: OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM -- An F-15C Eagle from the 363rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron takes off for an Operation Iraqi Freedom sortie March 23. Aircraft from the 363rd EFS work around the clock flying missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Hannen)F-15 Eagle: OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM -- An F-15C Eagle from the 363rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron takes off for an Operation Iraqi Freedom sortie March 23. Aircraft from the 363rd EFS work around the clock flying missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Hannen)

F-15 Eagle: NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Major Andy "Sparky" Croft, 433rd Weapons Squadron, U.S. Air Force Weapons School, based here, flies over the desert May 30. Croft is participating in USAFWS Mission Employment Exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert W. Valenca)F-15 Eagle: NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Major Andy "Sparky" Croft, 433rd Weapons Squadron, U.S. Air Force Weapons School, based here, flies over the desert May 30. Croft is participating in USAFWS Mission Employment Exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert W. Valenca)

F-15 Eagle: ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFPN) -- Over the South Pacific, F-15 Eagles are refueled from a KC-135 Stratotanker on April 25. The aircraft are deployed from Kadena Air Base, Japan, for Tandem Thrust '03, an exercise conducted in the Mariana Islands. The exercise includes forces from the United States, Canada and Australia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Kimble)F-15 Eagle: ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFPN) -- Over the South Pacific, F-15 Eagles are refueled from a KC-135 Stratotanker on April 25. The aircraft are deployed from Kadena Air Base, Japan, for Tandem Thrust '03, an exercise conducted in the Mariana Islands. The exercise includes forces from the United States, Canada and Australia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Kimble)

F-15 Eagle: ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- A pair of F-15 Eagles from the 67th Fighter Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan, return here after an exercise Cope North mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Val Gempis)F-15 Eagle: ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- A pair of F-15 Eagles from the 67th Fighter Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan, return here after an exercise Cope North mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Val Gempis)

F-15 Eagle: ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- An F-15 Eagle from the 12th Fighter Squadron here prepares to taxi out for a real world deployment Oct. 26. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Adrian Cadiz)F-15 Eagle: ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- An F-15 Eagle from the 12th Fighter Squadron here prepares to taxi out for a real world deployment Oct. 26. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Adrian Cadiz)

F-15 Eagle: PRINCE SULTAN AIR BASE, Saudi Arabia -- An F-15 Eagle takes off during Operation Southern Watch, which was a major operation here for the past seven years. U.S. officials ended an era with the inactivation of the 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing at a ceremony Aug. 26. At the height of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the base was home to more than 5,000 troops and about 200 coalition aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Sean M. Worrell)F-15 Eagle: PRINCE SULTAN AIR BASE, Saudi Arabia -- An F-15 Eagle takes off during Operation Southern Watch, which was a major operation here for the past seven years. U.S. officials ended an era with the inactivation of the 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing at a ceremony Aug. 26. At the height of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the base was home to more than 5,000 troops and about 200 coalition aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Sean M. Worrell)

F-15 Eagle: EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- An F-15 Eagle from the 60th Fighter Squadron takes off from here. Airmen and aircraft from the 33rd Fighter Wing participated in a joint combat-identification exercise in Gulfport, Miss. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Bob Zoellner)F-15 Eagle: EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- An F-15 Eagle from the 60th Fighter Squadron takes off from here. Airmen and aircraft from the 33rd Fighter Wing participated in a joint combat-identification exercise in Gulfport, Miss. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Bob Zoellner)

F-15 Eagle: 1990's -- A 1st Tactical Fighter Wing F-15C Eagle aircraft refuels from a KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft while on a combat patrol near the Iraqi border during Operation Desert Shield.F-15 Eagle: 1990's -- A 1st Tactical Fighter Wing F-15C Eagle aircraft refuels from a KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft while on a combat patrol near the Iraqi border during Operation Desert Shield.

F-15 Eagle: 1990's -- F-15C Eagle aircraft armed with AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles deploy to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield. The aircraft are assigned to the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing.F-15 Eagle: 1990's -- F-15C Eagle aircraft armed with AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles deploy to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield. The aircraft are assigned to the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing.

F-15 Eagle: 1990's -- A 58th Tactical Fighter Squadron F-15 Eagle aircraft banks to the right following refueling during Operation Desert Storm. The aircraft is armed with four AIM-7 Sparrow missiles on the fuselage, an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile on the left wing and an AIM-120 advanced medium range air-to-air missile on the right wing.F-15 Eagle: 1990's -- A 58th Tactical Fighter Squadron F-15 Eagle aircraft banks to the right following refueling during Operation Desert Storm. The aircraft is armed with four AIM-7 Sparrow missiles on the fuselage, an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile on the left wing and an AIM-120 advanced medium range air-to-air missile on the right wing.

F-15 Eagle: OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO -- Maj. Phillip Campbell, an F-15 Eagle instructor pilot, fires a radar-guided, air-to-air AIM-7 Sparrow at an aerial target drone during a weapons evaluation mission March 1. The major is assigned to the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Ammons)F-15 Eagle: OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO -- Maj. Phillip Campbell, an F-15 Eagle instructor pilot, fires a radar-guided, air-to-air AIM-7 Sparrow at an aerial target drone during a weapons evaluation mission March 1. The major is assigned to the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Ammons)

More photos: F-15 Eagle photo gallery

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