Now, it has an official name.
The plane will be known as the F-15EX Eagle II, the Air Force announced Wednesday at a ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base. The Air National Guard will receive the jet first, and the Air Force will buy as many as 144 F-15EXs over the course of the next 10 or 12 years, as older F-15C/D jets age out.
“Undefeated in aerial combat, the F-15 Eagle epitomized air superiority in the minds of our enemies, allies, and the American people for over 45 years, but it was not meant to fly forever. We heard the demand signal from our warfighters,” Lt. Gen Duke Richardson, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology Logistics, said in the Air Force press release.
“I’m pleased to say we’ve responded boldly and decisively, with a proven platform that’s modernized and optimized to maintain air superiority now and into the future.”
“Since 1985 the F-15 has had a home in the Guard and Guard Airmen have flown these amazing aircraft both in the defense of the homeland and in every major international conflict since the first Gulf War in 1991,” Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, Air National Guard director, also said in the release. “Now that is the battle-tested legacy of Guard F-15s – first to the fight, always ready and always there.”
“The Air National Guard flies 93 percent of homeland defense missions, and along with the F-35A, the F-15EX will help ensure that legacy for many decades to come,” ANG Director Lt. Gen. Michael A. Loh said during the introduction ceremony, per Air Force Magazine.
“These brand-new aircraft represent a significant upgrade over the legacy F-15C. A significant upgrade in weapons capacity, including the ability to carry outsize weapons, for these missions and for stand-off roles in the high-end fight.”
F-15EX Eagle II: Worth the Hype?
Questions have been raised about the F-15EX’s effectiveness. Mark Episkopos wrote last month that the plane is “one of USAF’s most poorly considered acquisitions in recent years.”
“As a fourth-generation fighter, the F-15EX utterly lacks the stealth features necessary to operate effectively in the context of modern air combat,” Episkopos wrote last month. “Simply put, the F-15EX is not survivable against the modern surface-to-air and air-to-air weapons of great powers like Russia and China.
“With the ongoing global proliferation of Russia’s formidable S-400 missile system and the imminent debut of its S-500 successor, it will become progressively harder for F-15EX squadrons to fly in contested airspace without incurring active risks.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.