F-15EX proves out full air-to-air capability

  • Published
  • By Samuel King Jr.

Flying locally over the Gulf of Mexico, two F-15EX Eagle II aircraft launched missiles from their new weapon stations, known as Stations 1 and 9, here Nov. 29.

The 96th Test Wing’s pilots fired an AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile from Station 1 and an AIM-9X from Station 9 over the Eglin Test and Training Complex’s water range.

This Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force mission was the first Air Force test flight to validate the weapons could be fired effectively and safely from those stations.  The successful employment of these weapons is a major step in demonstrating the Eagle II aircraft’s missile capacity of 12 air-to-air missiles.

“I’m really proud to be a part of this milestone for the F-15EX program to deliver increased payload capacity to the combat air forces,” said Maj. Jeremy Schnurbusch, 40th FLTS-attached pilot, who fired the AIM-9X missile.

This is one of many upgrades F-15EX brings to the Air Force inventory.  Prior to the F-15EX Eagle II, F-15 aircraft models could carry eight air-to-air missiles.  The F-15EX Eagle II adds four additional missile stations located toward the wing tips.  This mission provided the first test points for validating the expanded carriage and employment capabilities of the Eagle II. 

Both aircraft successfully released the missiles on separate passes against a target drone.  The releases were another milestone in the F-15EX’s developmental test program, but also incorporated many operational test objectives during the mission.

“Having been a part of the Eglin F-15EX team from day one, it's exciting to see the progress made and new milestones achieved as we work to field the most combat-capable F-15EX,” said Maj. Brett Hughes, OFP CTF, who successfully fired the AIM-120 from Station 1. 

With this success, these missile launches pushed forward the aircraft’s integrated developmental and operational testing here, where the F-15EX fired its first missile just nine months ago. 

“The integrated test strategy has been critical to our test success, allowing us to break the mold of traditional testing, ultimately resulting in a better overall product for the warfighter in a shorter timeline than a traditional approach,” said Colton Myers, OFP CTF F‑15EX test project manager.

Once initial testing is complete, operational units receiving the new F-15EX will be able to carry and employ a full load-out of 12 missiles on the aircraft upon fielding.

“The F-15EX is an incredible addition to the USAF inventory.  This event, executed by a top-notch team of test pilots, engineers, and experts, proves yet again the F-15EX will be ready if, and when, our adversaries challenge our nation’s interests,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Wee, OFP CTF commander.