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The U.S. Air Force’s newest fighter successfully fired munitions from two hardpoints during live fire tests in the Gulf of Mexico. The test took place almost one year after the F-15EX Eagle II first fired live munitions.
The F-15EX Eagle II’s Beast Mode
Eventually, the Air Force plans to equip the F-15EX Eagle II with 12 air-to-air munitions, such as the AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-120 AMRAAM, which would make it by far the heaviest equipped air superiority fighter. For comparison, older versions of the F-15, as well as the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter, can carry up to eight air-to-air munitions; the F-16 Fighting Falcon six air-to-air munitions; and the F-35 Lighting II carries up to six – four in its internal weapon bays and two in external hardpoints.
The F-15EX Eagle II builds on the airframe of the deadliest fighter jet in the world today, the F-15.
Since 1974, when the F-15 first entered service, its many variants have shot down 104 aircraft in anger without losing a single aircraft.
The Israeli Air Force, which has operated the F-15 for decades, has claimed the most kills.
The newest air superiority fighter jet has an operating ceiling of 70,000 feet and can reach speeds of Mach-2.5. With external fuel tanks, the F-15EX Eagle II has an effective range upward of 1,250 miles. These are impressive characteristics, but more impressive still is the fact that the F-15EX Eagle II can pull the above while packing almost 30,000 pounds of weapons.
The fighter jet also packs an updated cockpit system and electronic warfare capabilities.
The F-15EX Eagle II came about as a result of foreign buyers who continue to pour money into the F-15 program.
Complementing the F-35
At around $90 million per aircraft, the F-15EX Eagle II is even more expensive than the F-35 Lighting II, which costs about $80 million. (The price tag of the stealth fighter jet has been fluctuating for years.) But the Air Force expects the F-15EX Eagle II to last almost three times as long as its fifth generation counterpart.
Indeed, the F-15EX Eagle II is expected to last for approximately 20,000 flight hours, while the F-35 Lighting II has around 8,000 flight hours in it.
Easy integration is another reason the F-15EX Eagle II is well liked within the Department of Defense. The F-15EX Eagle II can be readily introduced to frontline squadrons.
With approximately 70% of parts overlapping with existing iterations of the F-15, the F-15EX Eagle II will be easy to operate and maintain for units that already fly its predecessors.
Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.