From Pioneering Origins to Unbeatable Might: Celebrating the Legacy of the F-15 Eagle as a True Icon of Aviation
There’s so much to love about the F-15 Eagle, unless you’re the enemy – then there’s nothing likable about it.
Only a few years after taking its maiden flight, armies across the world recognized the potential military applications that this new flying machine can be used for. Consequently, the airplane has been at the forefront of wars and national defense, its role evolving from conducting surveillance and signaling ground troops to becoming a primary weapon to deploy against the enemy.
As the major world conflicts proved the worth of the airplane as a major military asset, the technology and lethality of the airplane continued to improve in ways that would probably astound and terrify the Wright brothers as their creation led to the birth and development of some of the most amazing airplanes, including one, that is considered as one of the best and unbeatable fighter jets of the modern age – The F-15 Eagle.
At almost half a century old, the F-15 has proven itself as a true bird of war. Having served on the frontline in almost all the wars and conflicts zones of the last decades of the 20th century, this metal eagle continues to dominate the skies today. With the many things that make this jet awesome, here’s why the F-15C Eagle is one of the coolest planes ever.
15. Vietnam War Origins
As the Vietnam War was ongoing, the US Air Force recognized the need for a new type of aircraft to address the shortcomings of their existing planes and meet the challenges of future conflicts. This requirement led to the creation of the F-X fighter program to design and build this new generation fighter plane.
14. The Winning Design
During the F-X program, the US Air Force received proposals from eight different companies that submitted over 500 design concepts. However, the revelation that their benchmark, the older Mig 23 was already surpassed by the newly revealed Mig 25, the F-X program had to respond, the result of which is the F-15A.
13. The Mafia And The Falcon
While the F-X program was ongoing, a group of lobbyists now called “The Fighter Mafia” were making efforts to secure funding and production for a different fighter. The LWF (Light Weight Fighter) program was accepted by the US Air Force partly due to the high cost of the F-15, allowing for the eventual creation of the smaller, cheaper F-16.
12. The Eagle Has Landed
By 1969, the US airforce eliminated the other proponents for the project and selected McDonnell Douglas for the contract of the F-X fighter program. By 1972, the first test flights were made and by January 9, 1976, the F-15 was formally introduced to service.
11. Flying High, Shooting True
The Eagle is fast, capable of Mach 2.5 and can fly far – 5,500Km range. The Eagle is a war machine, can carry a combination of Sparrow, Sidewinder and AMRAAM missiles as well as a Vulcan M61A1 gun. Finally, the Eagle can soar, with a ceiling height of 65,000Ft, 20,000ft higher than any commercial jet, and is the same as its newer rival, the F-22 Raptor.
10. Not Just An American Eagle
While primarily the frontline strike fighter jet of the US Air Force, the capabilities of the F-15 made it an ideal fighter for other allied militaries. Export of the Eagle started in 1977 when Israel acquired several units and is now also used by the Air Forces of Japan and Saudi Arabia.
9. The Real Mighty Eagle
F-15 Eagles fire AIM-7 Sparrow missiles at a tactical air-launched decoy off the coast of Hawaii on July 16 during the Rim of the Pacific Exercise 2006. The F-15s are from the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 199th Fighter Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)
The undefeated champ, while there have been a number of encounters by the F-15 against enemy aircraft or anti-aircraft ground units where claims of an F-15 kill were made, no substantial evidence has ever been provided to prove these, as such, the Eagle still has an unbeaten 104-0 kill to loss ratio.
8. Space Ace
As the threat of the Soviet Union and its weapons were of primary concern for the US back in the 80s, a way to discretely destroy Soviet satellites was tested with the F-15. Between 1984 and 1986, tests using the “ASAT” missile were conducted, and the F-15 successfully detroyed an old American satellite target used as a practice target.
7. The Streak Eagle
The F-15 was already a high performance jet when in 1975, a spartan – unpainted, gutted, stripped of most avionics, F-15A was created to demonstrate the fighter’s acceleration capabilities. This F- 15 “Streak Eagle” broke eight time-to-climb world records.
6. Eagle Experimental
One of the coolest versions of the F-15 is the F-15 STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) Technology Demonstrator. Created by McDonnell Douglas and Langley as a test bed for STOL concepts and, the research findings from this special Eagle help scientists develop even better technology for future airplanes.
5. One Tough Bird
Credited as a tough old bird, the F-15 lives up to its reputation as several incidents involving major damage to the plane yet still being able to fly have been documented. A startling example occurred in 1983, when an Israeli F-15 collided with another jet, and was able to land, its pilot only realizing the damage when he was already on the tarmac!
4. Only Gets Better
In its long history, the F-15 has proven itself as a reliable and efficient strike, counter and offensive aerial platform and by virtue of its performance, has been improved upon greatly since its introduction. Newer avionics, radar, software, and hardware packages have been added to the F-15, making it up to date and relevant 47 years since its introduction.
3. Silent But Deadly
An interesting variant of the F-15 is the SE (Silent Eagle) version of this venerable fighter. Designed with an internal weapons bay and made with radar absorbent material, this Eagle was created to have limited stealth capabilities allowing it to compete as a lower cost alternative to the F-35.
2. Old Is Still Gold
The one generation younger F-22 was envisioned to replace the aging F-15 as the US Air Force primary strike fighter. Its ability to supercruise, stealth capability and battlefield networking features are meant to address the shortcomings of the Eagle, but, compared side by side, the F-15 is faster, has a longer range and can carry more weapons.
1. The Future Eagle
Initially scheduled for retirement by the mid 2020s, the F-15 Eagle has now been earmarked for a longer service period owing to the cost effective nature of the platform compared to the newer 5th generation fighters. The proposed F-15X “Super Eagle” is faster, carries more weapons and is meant to provide support roles to the 5th gen fighters