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The F-15EX Eagle II Might Be the World’s Deadliest Fighter

F-15EX image provided by Boeing.

The F-15EX Eagle II took one flight closer to becoming the most heavily armed American fighter jet

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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 

The F-15EX Eagle II has gained enough traction to cut down the number of F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jets that the Pentagon plans to purchase. 

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. 

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.



  1. Jacksonian Libertarian

    January 10, 2023 at 10:08 pm

    Please, this whole program is a sop to the Pilots Cabal in the Pentagon, who want to keep flying their super planes. Today’s beyond visual range air battles are fought with smart weapons, not dog fighting with guns. By this measure any UAV loaded with the latest model air to air smart weapon is the deadliest fighter jet.

  2. TrustbutVerify

    January 11, 2023 at 10:05 am

    I guess it might be a good follow-on missile truck for the F-35 to data link weapons or a distraction/diversion….but it wouldn’t survive against 5th Gen fighters.

  3. Calvin30

    January 11, 2023 at 10:28 am

    Stealth has a price, weapons load, range, speed, maneuverability, operating cost and useful life. We should not worship at the alter of stealth and sacrifice common sense. We heard about beyond visual range air battles in the 60’s and 70’s and they are still here.

  4. Johnathan Galt

    January 11, 2023 at 12:40 pm

    Had the bothered to build the F-16XL version, they could have carried 16 (or more) missiles at half the cost to operate, and had far more of them. Forward thinking is not a strong suit in procurement. While not “stealth” per se, the RCS of the XL was about 10% or less that of the Eagle.

  5. NorEastern

    January 11, 2023 at 1:11 pm

    Missile load is an extremely poor metric to judge any fighter jet. In fact it might be among the worst. What were you thinking author?

  6. Roger Joseph Buffington

    January 11, 2023 at 1:35 pm

    My background is Army, not Air Force, but it strikes me that there will always be a place for a non-stealthy, highly maneuverable, armed-to-the-teeth air superiority fighter. The F15EX seems to take this notion near to its apex. If Obama had not cancelled the F22 before the fleet became large enough to benefit from economies of scale, that might have been a better choice than the F15EX, but here we are. Obviously the Next Generation Air Superiority Fighter will eventually phase in and reduce the need for the F15EX, but that is a decade or more away, I am imagining.

  7. mLee

    January 11, 2023 at 2:03 pm

    I’m not sure Boeing’s PR department could have formatted a better press release for continuing production of it’s legacy super fighter platform.

    The EX will be fine flying against 2nd and 3rd rate opponents But surviving to delivering ordinance in highly contested battlespaces is 5th gen work. Modern integrated Russian and PRC fighters/AA will be popping EX’s like clay pigeons.

    We owe our pilots, taxpayers, and citizens

  8. Danno

    January 12, 2023 at 8:09 am

    Although an informative article I wonder why the producers of this video talked about the F15 while mostly showing the F35s? A bit confusing to follow the story with the wrong fighter being shown while talking about another.

  9. John Stuart

    January 12, 2023 at 10:40 am

    Don’t sacrifice common sense on the alter of stealth. Stealth costs, range, payload, operating cost and air frame life. You don’t need to need to be stealthy in a fist fight if you have the longest arms.

  10. David Jones

    January 12, 2023 at 11:22 am

    So…how many enemy stealth fighters would the F15EX have to face? Russia doesn’t have enough 57s to make up a full squadron. And China’s attempt isn’t near full 5th generation stealth with its canards and big ole’ turkey feathers.

  11. Zipper

    January 12, 2023 at 1:33 pm

    Definitely a niche for this evolved fighter, as long as it is carefully integrated into the battle plan.

  12. Mike

    January 12, 2023 at 2:26 pm

    With all of those weapons and conformal fuel tanks an F4 will out turn it!

  13. Damion Blackthorn

    January 12, 2023 at 4:19 pm

    Whatever version of American Fighters they choose, they need to build hundreds more, train more pilots to man them….in a shooting way, it’s who get’s there firstest, with the mostest…..still true to this day.

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