Guide F-15 Eagle at War

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During Gulf War combat against Iraqi forces, the F accounted for 36 of the 39 air-to-air victories by the U.S. Air Force.
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And this is not just some attempt to grab business and then deliver an aircraft that costs way more than promised. Our sources tell us that Boeing is willing to put their money where their mouth is via offering the FX under a fixed priced contract. In other words, whatever the jets actually end up costing, the Pentagon will pay a fixed price—Boeing would have to eat any overages. This is possible because the F is a very known commodity as it has been in production for 45 years and has flown hundreds of thousands of hours in continuously more capable configurations.

Boeing is also likely apt to make the Pentagon a heck of a deal on the FX as it will help ensure fighter production at the company's storied St. Louis plant for years to come and it would keep the door open for additional foreign Eagle orders. It would also provide an ongoing tactical aircraft production relationship with the USAF. This relationship could also be sustained via the T-X contract that aims to replace the USAF's half-century-old T Talon jet trainers, but who exactly will win that contract remains a question mark as the award isn't slated to arrive until late this Summer at the earliest.

The biggest question most have about the FX is where would these fighters be inserted into the USAF's existing force structure? It would have no impact on the existing FE Strike Eagle fleet or its planned upgrade pathway that is underway now. Swapping Fs for Fs means a capability deficit in almost every regard. But spending money now to acquire FXs may actually save money in the long run. Doing so would cost many millions of dollars per jet, especially if those aircraft end up needing new wings in the coming decade, which according to most accounts, they will.

And then you still have an airplane that is in the back-half of its service life and costs more to keep in the air than a totally fresh jet. The FX will have a 20, hour service life.

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Yes, you read that right, 20, hours —pretty much three times that of most fighters being produced around the globe. As such, a new FX can serve for roughly 80 years. When you spread the cost of the jet over all that flight time, it does appear to be a comparative bargain. In addition, our sources tell us that FX cost-per-flight-hour has been deeply investigated both by Boeing and by third parties by leveraging metrics from legacy F operations and those of late-model Strike Eagle derivatives and even other fighters in the USAF's inventory.

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Compared to the F or F this figure is very attractive as well. Apparently, it also takes into account a single-seat, multi-role mission set similar to an F and the manning demands associated with it, not just an air superiority role. And once again, because the F is a known commodity, this number is not some optimistic guess. It's also worth noting that the cost of an aircraft's development—which in this case is nothing—and its 'flyaway price' tell just part of the fiscal story.

New logistics chains, centralized sustainment facilities, training squadrons, the unique infrastructure required at every base a new fighter is stationed, program offices, operational test and tactics development, weapons integration, and so on are all extremely expensive but seldom discussed aspects of introducing a new fighter aircraft. The FX is specifically configured to require none of this. Even pilot training is said to be seamless, with it supposedly taking just single sortie, a bit of class work, and a couple simulator hops to convert an existing Eagle pilot over to an advanced Strike Eagle derivative.

It is truly a plug-and-play concept above all else. The flight-line of the nd Fighter Wing. The FQA will be capable of deploying close to every weapon in the Pentagon's tactical fighter weapons inventory and so will the FX. It is known that the F production line is quite elastic and could scale up to dozens of jets a year if the demand was there. It is likely that Qatar will also execute an option for another 36 Eagles as well. Another order for Fs from Israel is more likely to occur than not at this point, and other prospects for export remain, from Europe to Asia. But getting the USAF back on the pages of the Eagle's order books would be a huge coup for the program and it alone could very well lead to additional foreign orders.

F-15 Eagle

The FX initiative may be all about getting already available capabilities to the USAF at a low cost with next to no fuss, but in the future, the jet could play a pivotal role in supporting many of the most buzz-worthy air combat concepts being discussed by USAF today. These include man-machine teaming , in which the FX would play quarterback for stealthy unmanned combat air vehicles UCAVs that can go where even the F and F cannot.

The FX could also act as a weapons truck for stealthy fighters operating forward of their position into more highly contested airspace. This will become an especially critical capacity as ultra-long-range weaponry becomes too large for stealth fighters' weapons bays or to be carried in relevant numbers by smaller fighters.

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In the decades to come, it's very likely that standoff tactical jamming support will be necessary to ensure the survivability of America's current cadre of narrow-band low-observable fighters. This mission could benefit from the F's long-endurance as well. Fast Packs were originally envisioned back in the s as having many more uses than carrying additional fuel. This adaptability is still a largely untapped resource for the Eagle family, especially in an age of conformal arrays and increasingly miniaturized sensor and even directed energy systems. Directed energy weapons—namely lasers —and large surveillance sensors, and even outsized anti-ballistic missile weaponry, would be at home on the FX more so than virtually any other fighter.

The jet's legendary ability to lug large payloads over long distances to execute standoff attacks could also be very beneficial, especially considering how vulnerable tanker aircraft are increasingly becoming —a problem that is only slated to get worse in the future. A fighter with a larger combat radius that can carry more weapons to hit more targets than its stablemates equates to enhanced survivability for tankers that support them and less dependence on them in general. Above all else, the reality that the FX concept is actually a thing, and has been in the works for the better part of two years no less, is a promising indication that the USAF is coming to terms with the need to field a diverse mix of tactical fast-jet capabilities, with each platform bringing something special to the table.

An all stealth force sounds good, but in reality, it is fiscally unsustainable and not beneficial, and even a hindrance, to many of the missions the USAF conducts on a daily basis and will continue to do so for decades to come.

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The Eagle's old or new heavy lifting and long endurance capabilities alone are somewhat indispensable in regards to where the future of air combat is headed. It has been used to launch anti-satellite weapons and for tests with outsized missiles, including the AIM hypersonic test missile as seen above. There have even been concepts that envisioned the F carrying Patriot missiles aloft for anti-ballistic missile duties.

FC and D models first entered service towards the end of the 's. Upgrades included a 2, pound kgs of extra fuel capacity, the capability of carrying external fuel tanks and increased maximum takeoff weight of 30, kgs. Further upgrades were made to the Eagle design in early to mid's.

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These included improvements to avionics and improved armament controls to enable the use of AIM-7 to AIMA missiles as well as radar upgrades. FC to E models were used to great success in the Gulf War of F15 Eagles have since been used for operations in Iraq, Bosnia, and Afghanistan. As if it wasn't fearsome enough. Current versions have an incredible kill ratio of in combat.

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Low wing load, if you are not sure, is the ratio of the aircraft's weight to its wing area. It is absolutely vital for an air superiority fighter. This bird has impressive multi-mission avionics that set it apart from many other fighters. She has HUD, advanced radar, inertial navigation, and ultrahigh frequency communications.

It is a formidable opponent indeed. The F Eagle has a great mixture of unprecedented maneuverability and acceleration, range, weaponry, and avionics. Declan Keegan via Flickr ]. During combat, the pilot uses a head-up display that projects on the windscreen.

History of the Eagle

This displays vital information gathered by the integrated avionics systems. Saving time and potentially the pilot's life. This radar system allows the fighter to track aircraft and small high-speed targets at distances beyond the visual range and down to treetop level. All of this information is fed to the HUD and provides both threat warnings and automated countermeasures against threats.

If the pilot finds himself in a dogfight the radar automatically acquires the enemy, pretty handy. The Eagle can be armed with a large variety of combinations of armaments. Given the fighter's age, you'd be forgiven for thinking it is long past retirement age. But it has been rumored that the USAF has delayed the inevitable at least for a decade.