It was a win some, lose some kind of day for the F-15EX.
According to John Tirpak of Air Force Magazine, “the two first-of-their-kind F-15EXs—being used for concurrent operational and developmental test—played in Northern Edge only two weeks after they were delivered to the Air Force. The goal was to see if they could play the part now met in the Combat Air Forces by the F-15C plus add some capability to that mission,” according to Lt. Col. John O’Rear of the 84th Test and Evaluation Squadron.
“We flew them with two-ships of F-15C models, two-ships of F-15E models, … two-ships of EXs supporting other fourth-gen (flights), and integrating with the F-22 and F-35,” O’Rear told the magazine.
The F-15EXs indeed “tallied some kills while they were up there” but there were also some losses.
“If you go into any large force exercise and you come back with everybody—with no blue losses—I would probably say that your threat is not as robust as it needs to be, in order to get the learning,” O’Rear noted.
“In this kind of environment, most of your blue ‘deaths’ are probably going to be outside of visual range, just because of the threat we’re replicating,” he continued.
Visual-range dogfights are “not something that happens a whole bunch,” he added.
Focus on EPAWSS
During the exercises, the jets tested the capabilities of the Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS), an electronic warfare suite that aims to offer the jet more survivability against modern military threats.
“We’re still gathering data” on how the EPAWSS performed but the results “look promising,” O’Rear said.
“In general, it’s looking like it was on track for what we were expecting to see” at the exercise, he added.
One of EPAWSS’ test point was to gauge if it could assist stealthy F-22 and F-35s operating in proximity.
The additional jamming “can help the F-35 get closer to the adversary,” O’Rear said.
“The more clutter, the more electronic attack you have out there, the more difficult it is for enemy sensors to work through that.” The EPAWSS was able to integrate with “a coordinated electronic attack throughout the force package,” he continued.
O’Rear added that planning for the F-15EX’s participation in Northern Edge started long before the aircraft were even delivered.
“We set the milestones” for the EX test program “over a year ago,” he said.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.