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The F-15 Eagle is in service for over 40 years, though it remains a formidable warplane

In 1967 the Soviet Union revealed a new MiG-25 high-speed and high-altitude interceptor, which had tremendous performance. Its appearance led to serious concerns throughout the Department of Defense that the US was being outclassed. Also there were some other new Soviet developments that posed threat. A new fighter was required, that could meet expected performance of the MiG-25.

In 1968 four US companies submitted their proposals for a new air-to-air fighter. These included General Dynamics, Fairchild Republic, North American Rockwell and McDonnell Douglas. In 1969 the US Air Force selected the McDonnell Douglas design, which resembled a twin-tail F-14 Tomcat, but had fixed wings.

The F-15 Eagle made its first flight in 1972. It was the first USAF’s dedicated air superiority fighter since the F-86 Sabre. It remains the world’s premier air-to-air fighter. Although now in service for over 40 years, it remains a formidable warplane, as attested by its claim to 36 of the 39 USAF aerial victories in Desert Storm, without a single combat loss.

The USAF has around 500 F-15s; active-duty units operate F-15C/Ds while the Air National Guard squadrons are equipped largely with older F-15A/Bs. Due to its capabilities this advanced fighter was exported only to trusted US allies, including Israel, Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and South Korea.

It is an air-superiority fighter, designed to gain and maintain air supremacy. Originally the F-15 Eagle was armed with AIM-7 Sparrow short- and medium-range air-to-air missiles and improved versions of AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles. There was also an M61 20 mm cannon with 940 rounds of ammunition.

Initially these fighters were fitted with two Pratt & Whitney F100 series engines. On newer versions these were replaced by General Electric F110 turbofans.

The Multi-Stage Improvement II upgrade for F-15C/Ds added APG-70 radar, compatibility with new AIM-120 AMRAAM medim-range air-to-air missiles, improved electronic counter measures equipment and the joint tactical information datalink system. The F-15A/Bs gained elements of the Multi-Stage Improvement II, as well as improved Dash 220E engines. Their radars were upgraded to APG-63(V)1 standard that incorporates features of the APG-70.

The F-15 was a very advanced fighter for its time. Though it was too expensive to be produced in large numbers. So eventually a Lightweight Fighter program was started, which led to the introduction of the F-16 Fighting Falcon multi-role fighter, which was smaller, less expensive, but also less capable.


F-15A is an initial single-seat fighter. It made its first flight in 1972. A total of 384 of these fighters were built between 1972 and 1979.

F-15B is a twin-seat training version. Initially it was known as TF-15. It made its first flight in 1973. A total of 61 of these aircraft were build when production switched to improved version in 1979.

F-15C is an improved single-seat version. It made its first flight and entered production in 1978. The F-15C carried more internal fuel and had provision to carry 3 external fuel tanks. A total of 483 of these fighters were built until 1985.

F-15D is an improved twin-seat training version. It made its first flight and entered production in 1978. A total of 92 of these aircraft were built until 1985.

F-15J is a Japanese license-produced version, almost identical to the USAF’s F-15C. It was manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. A total of 163 F-15Js were delivered from 1979 to 1996. Though a small number of these F-15Js was imported from the United States. This fighter lack the US tactical electronic ωλɾʄλɾɛ system and is therefore fitted with indigenous electronic ωλɾʄλɾɛ equipment. Japanese improvements include a radar and central computer upgrade, to a standard comparable to the USAF’s Multi-Stage Improveent II F-15s. Other elements include upgraded electronic counter measures systems along with new forward-looking infra-red and infra-red search and track systems. With these modifications, the Mitsubishi F-15J has the capability to carry fire-and-forget beyond visible range air-to-air missiles and possess much more resistance to any future electronic ωλɾʄλɾɛ threat. The F-15Js primarily equip Japan’s fighter intercept squadrons.

F-15DJ is another Japanese license-produced version, almost identical to F-15D two-seat trainer. A total of 50 F-15DJs were delivered from 1979 to 1996. Though a small number of these F-15DJs was imported from the United States. It is also a product of Mitsubishi. This fighter is fitted with indigenous electronic ωλɾʄλɾɛ equipment. The Mitsubishi F-15DJs primarily equip Japan’s fighter intercept squadrons.

F-15E strike and ground attack aircraft. It is unoficially known as the Strike Eagle. The Strike Eagle name not being adopted officially. Though it is still referred as the Strike Eagle by the company. Trials of the F-15 in the air-to-ground role began during 1982 when McDonnel Douglas (now Boeing) modified a two-seater F-15 for ground attack role. It was developed as a private venture.

The Strike Eagle was seen as a possible replacement for the F-111, and emerged as the winner of an evaluation over its rival, the General Dynamics F-16XL, for the USAF’s Enhanced Tactical Fighter programme. The first production F-15E made its maiden flight in 1986. With the new avionics and equipment for its air-to-ground ωɛλρσɳs, the F-15E is very much a second-generation Eagle. It is in service with the USAF since 1989.

F-15K is a South Korean version. It was powered by new General Electric F110-GE-129 engines, that developed 131 kN of thrust. These were the first production F-15s, fitted with such engines. All previous models were powered by Pratt & Whitney engines. Eventually this newer engine was used on some other F-15s versions.

F-15SE Silent Eagle is a multi-role fighter is an upgraded and more stealthy version of the F-15E ground attack aircraft. Boeing began development of the new version in 2009. This aircraft was developed as a private venture. So far there is only one unit, built by Boeing, which made its maiden flight in 2010. This aircraft served as a demonstrator. The cost of producing a single Silent Eagle was around $100 million. Though eventually this multi-role fighter received no production orders.

F-15 Advanced Eagle is a proposed upgrade of older F-15 Eagle variants. It is also referred as F-15 2040C.

F-15X is a proposed newly-built aircraft, which incorporates technology of the Advanced Eagle. It is being offered as the F-15C replacement.


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