The F-15 is a twin engine tactical fighter capable of operating in any kind of weather conditions and was designed by the renowned McDonnell Douglas. Their design was selected in 1967 to give the US military a dominant air-superiority fighter, which would become one of the most successful fighters in modern times with over 100 aerial combat victories and no air-to-air losses. The F-15’s first flight was in July 1972. It went through rigorous trials and entered service in 1976 and is expected to remain in service with the US military until 2025. Since it’s production, the Eagle has also entered service with the armed forces of Saudi Arabia, Japan and Israel. Originally envisioned as a pure dogfighter, the F-15 has been further developed into 2 upgraded models. The F-15E Strike Eagle which is equipped with more advanced avionics and electronic warfare capabilities. The F-15SE is a stealthy version, complete with internal weapons bays and radar-absorbent materials.
The F-15 was developed in the F-X program of the late 1960’s in response to fears that the Soviet MiG-25 Foxbat could outclass current American fighters. McDonnell Douglas beat out heavy hitters like General Dynamics, Fairchild Republic and North American Rockwell to snatch up the lucrative fighter contract. The Eagle’s design incorporated the best aspects of older combat jet aircraft like the F-4 Phantom and combined it with the best in new technology and advanced designs like the “look down/shoot down” radar that could distinguish low-flying targets from ground clutter, a new canopy that provided unparalleled visibility, and all-new avionics and computer information systems.
Being the first strictly air-superiority fighter developed by the US since the F-86 Sabre from the late 1940’s, the production of the F-15 also required an overhaul in the design of advanced air-t0-air weaponry. The revolutionary canopy and heads up display allowed the single pilot to conduct air combat and fly the plane as safely and effectively as possible. It can be outfitted with several types of missiles including the Sparrow, AMRAAM, or Sidewinder. It also features an internal M61A1 20 mm Gatling gun under the right wing.
The Eagle has seen extensive combat use, mostly by Middle-Eastern militaries in regional conflicts. The first air-to-air kill was scored by an Israeli Air Force ace in 1979 and during Israeli raids into Lebanon in 1979-81, F-15As shot down 13 Syrian MiG-21 Fishbeds and 2 Syrian MiG-25 Foxbats. F-15s served in the 1982 Lebanon War where they shot down 40 enemy planes, 23 Syrian MiG-21 Fishbeds, 17 MiG-23 Floggers and 1 Syrian SA.342L Gazelle helicopter. In 1984, Saudi F-15C pilots shot down 2 Iranian F-4E Phantoms. In 1985, F-15s were used in a ground attack role to bomb a PLO headquarters in Tunisia. Saudi pilots shot down 2 Iraqi Mirage F1s during the Gulf War. The Eagle is also capable of being equipped with a satellite killer missile and has performed numerous successful tests. The USAF deployed F-15C, D, and E models to participate in the First Gulf War where they accounted for 36 of the 39 aerial victories. As of 2008, the aerial combat record for the F-15 from all operators stands at 104 kills and 0 air combat losses.
Number built: 1,198
Unit Cost: F-15A/B: $27,900,000. F-15C/D: $29,900,000
- Crew: 1: pilot
- Length: 63 ft 9 in (19.43 m)
- Wingspan: 42 ft 10 in (13.05 m)
- Height: 18 ft 6 in (5.63 m)
- Wing area: 608 ft² (56.5 m²)
- Airfoil: NACA 64A006.6 root, NACA 64A203 tip
- Empty weight: 28,000 lb (12,700 kg)
- Loaded weight: 44,500 lb (20,200 kg)
- Max takeoff weight: 68,000 lb (30,845 kg)
- Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney F100-100 or −220 afterburning turbofans
- Dry thrust: 17,450 lbf (77.62 kN) each
- Thrust with afterburner: 25,000 lbf for −220 (111.2 kN for −220) each
- Fuel capacity: 13,455 lb (6,100 kg) internal
- Maximum speed:
- High altitude: Mach 2.5+ (1,650+ mph, 2,660+ km/h)
- Low altitude: Mach 1.2 (900 mph, 1,450 km/h)
- Combat radius: 1,061 nmi (1,222 mi, 1,967 km) for interdiction mission
- Ferry range: 3,450 mi (3,000 nmi, 5,550 km) with conformal fuel tanks and three external fuel tanks
- Service ceiling: 65,000 ft (20,000 m)
- Rate of climb: >50,000 ft/min (254 m/s)
- Wing loading: 73.1 lb/ft² (358 kg/m²)
- Thrust/weight: 1.12 (−220)