Background F-15 Eagle Aircraft
The first F-15A flight was made in July 1972, and the first flight of the two-seat F-15B (formerly TF-15A) trainer was made in July 1973. The first Eagle (F-15B) was delivered in November 1974. In January 1976, the first Eagle destined for a combat squadron was delivered.
The single-seat F-15C and two-seat F-15D models entered the Air Force inventory beginning in 1979. These new models have Production Eagle Package (PEP 2000) improvements, including 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms) of additional internal fuel, provision for carrying exterior conformal fuel tanks and increased maximum takeoff weight of up to 68,000 pounds (30,600 kilograms).
The F-15 Multistage Improvement Program was initiated in February 1983, with the first production MSIP F-15C produced in 1985. Improvements included an upgraded central computer; a Programmable Armament Control Set, allowing for advanced versions of the AIM-7, AIM-9, and AIM-120A missiles; and an expanded Tactical Electronic Warfare System that provides improvements to the ALR-56C radar warning receiver and ALQ-135 countermeasure set. The final 43 included a Hughes APG-70 radar.
F-15C, D and E models were deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1991 in support of Operation Desert Storm where they proved their superior combat capability with a confirmed 26:0 kill ratio. F-15 fighters accounted for 36 of the 39 Air Force air-to-air victories. F-15Es were operated mainly at night, hunting SCUD missile launchers and artillery sites using the LANTIRN system.
They have since been deployed to support Operation Southern Watch, the patrolling of the UN-sanctioned no-fly zone in Southern Iraq; Operation Provide Comfort in Turkey; in support of NATO operations in Bosnia, and recent air expeditionary force deployments.
History F-15 EagleThe F-15 Eagle's history is long and distinguished. It began as a Air Force fighter study in the early 1960s and was known as the Fighter Experimental (FX). By 1967 the Air Force began development of a new high performance fighter aircraft that would be extremely agile and would be capable of gaining and maintaining air superiority through air-to-air combat. The new design had to be optimized for combat with the power and agility to overcome any current or projected Soviet threat. The F-15 was the first air-to-air fighter requested by the Air Force since the F-86 Sabre. The resulting F-15 Eagle had an unequaled combination of performance, firepower, and avionics. It was the benchmark--the plane to beat.
To succeed in the air-to-air role, a plane needs the right airframe in combination with strong powerplant and avionics. The plane's designers understood this and stretched technology to the limits. It was determined that a very low wing loading combined with heavy thrust from the engines would be required. U.S. fighter aircraft of the period were going faster (Mach 2 plus), but were heavy and lacked maneuverability compared to their Soviet counterparts. When combined with a capable airframe, better maneuverability can be achieved by maximizing thrust, thereby maximizing energy. The Pratt & Whitney F100 Turbofan engine provides the needed thrust. Each engine is capable of producing 15,000 pounds of thrust at maximum power, and 25,000 pounds of thrust in afterburner. This gives the Eagle a total of 50,000 pounds of thrust. In other words, a nominally loaded F-15 Eagle of 48,000 pounds has a thrust-to-weight ratio of 1.04 pounds of thrust to each pound of aircraft weight. Thrust of this caliber allows an F-15 to accelerate while going straight up! A specially modified F-15A Eagle known as the "Streak Eagle" was able to outclimb a Saturn V Moon Rocket to almost 60,000 feet. This same aircraft flew to 98,430 feet (30,000 meters) in 207.80 seconds (less than 3 minutes and 30 seconds).
The lightly loaded airframe is combined with an equally impressive flight control system. A hydraulically actuated, mechanically controlled flight control system is augmented by an electronic system known as the Control Augmentation System (CAS). This system takes the stick inputs from the pilot and deflects the flight controls in the proper direction at the proper rate for optimal aircraft handling. This system allows the pilot to fly the aircraft to the limits of its capabilities without losing control of the aircraft. The CAS can also actuate the flight controls via pilot input if the hydro-mechanical system is damaged.
In order to win air-to-air battles, the pilot must be able to see, shoot, evade, and destroy the adversary first. The Eagle has an impressive array of weapons and avionics which allow it to get the advantage. The APG-63 and 70 radars allow crews to see targets that are as far away as 100 miles. These "Eyes" are able to ferret out the targets even if the targets are flying at high speeds at low altitudes. A Tactical Electronic Warfare System (TEWS) lets the aircrew know if any threat is present. The Heads-up-Display (HUD), and the Hands on Throttle and Stick (HOTAS), allow the Pilot to select, track and shoot the adversary without having to look back into the cockpit.
The impressive avionics suite is backed up by an equally impressive weapons capability. For close air-to-air combat the Eagle carries the six barreled 20mm M61A1 Vulcan cannon. The Vulcan fires rounds at rates of 66 or 100 rounds per second. Further distances are covered by the heat seeking AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-7 Sparrow, and the deadly AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile.
The F-15 Eagle has been produced in five models. The single seat A and C models, the two seat B and D models, and the formidable F-15E Strike Eagle. The A through D models are air-to-air versions but the E Model can carry out an air-to-ground mission in addition to the original air-to-air mission.
The F-15E is capable of delivering over 20,000 pounds of air-to-ground ordinance while traveling at high speeds at very low altitudes (as low as 100 feet) at night. To perform this role the aircraft utilizes the sophisticated LANTIRN system (Low Altitude Navigation Targeting Infrared for Night). This multi-role aircraft was conceived early in the development of the F-15 because it was easier to convert a thoroughbred air-to-air fighter into a ground attack platform than to complete this function in the opposite manner. The rear cockpit has become a dedicated air-to-ground crew station, housing several sophisticated multi-function display screens and two hand controllers. Added fuel is carried in conformal side fuselage tanks that increase the range without adding excessive aircraft drag. These conformal fuel tanks, fully integrated into the aircraft structure, contain hard point stations for additional air-to-ground ordinance loads.
Mission F-15 EagleThe F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to permit the Air Force to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat.
Features F-15 EagleThe Eagle's air superiority is achieved through a mixture of unprecedented maneuverability and acceleration, range, weapons and avionics. It can penetrate enemy defense and outperform and outfight any current enemy aircraft. The F-15 has electronic systems and weaponry to detect, acquire, track and attack enemy aircraft while operating in friendly or enemy-controlled airspace. The weapons and flight control systems are designed so one person can safely and effectively perform air-to-air combat.
The F-15's superior maneuverability and acceleration are achieved through high engine thrust-to-weight ratio and low wing loading. Low wing-loading (the ratio of aircraft weight to its wing area) is a vital factor in maneuverability and, combined with the high thrust-to-weight ratio, enables the aircraft to turn tightly without losing airspeed.
A multimission avionics system sets the F-15 apart from other fighter aircraft. It includes a head-up display, advanced radar, inertial navigation system, flight instruments, ultrahigh frequency communications, tactical navigation system and instrument landing system. It also has an internally mounted, tactical electronic-warfare system, "identification friend or foe" system, electronic countermeasures set and a central digital computer.
The head-up display projects on the windscreen all essential flight information gathered by the integrated avionics system. This display, visible in any light condition, provides the pilot information necessary to track and destroy an enemy aircraft without having to look down at cockpit instruments.
The F-15's versatile pulse-Doppler radar system can look up at high-flying targets and down at low-flying targets without being confused by ground clutter. It can detect and track aircraft and small high-speed targets at distances beyond visual range down to close range, and at altitudes down to treetop level. The radar feeds target information into the central computer for effective weapons delivery. For close-in dogfights, the radar automatically acquires enemy aircraft, and this information is projected on the head-up display. The F-15's electronic warfare system provides both threat warning and automatic countermeasures against selected threats.
A variety of air-to-air weaponry can be carried by the F-15. An automated weapon system enables the pilot to perform aerial combat safely and effectively, using the head-up display and the avionics and weapons controls located on the engine throttles or control stick. When the pilot changes from one weapon system to another, visual guidance for the required weapon automatically appears on the head-up display.
The Eagle can be armed with combinations of four different air-to-air weapons: AIM-7F/M Sparrow missiles or AIM-120 advanced medium range air-to-air missiles on its lower fuselage corners, AIM-9L/M Sidewinder or AIM-120 missiles on two pylons under the wings, and an internal 20mm Gatling gun in the right wing root.
Low-drag, conformal fuel tanks were especially developed for the F-15C and D models. Conformal fuel tanks can be attached to the sides of the engine air intake trunks under each wing and are designed to the same load factors and airspeed limits as the basic aircraft. Each conformal fuel tank contains about 114 cubic feet of usable space. These tanks reduce the need for in-flight refueling on global missions and increase time in the combat area. All external stations for munitions remain available with the tanks in use. AIM-7F/M Sparrow missiles, moreover, can be attached to the corners of the conformal fuel tanks.
The F-15E is a two-seat, dual-role, totally integrated fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and deep interdiction missions. The rear cockpit is upgraded to include four multi-purpose CRT displays for aircraft systems and weapons management. The digital, triple-redundant Lear Siegler flight control system permits coupled automatic terrain following, enhanced by a ring-laser gyro inertial navigation system.
For low-altitude, high-speed penetration and precision attack on tactical targets at night or in adverse weather, the F-15E carries a high-resolution APG-70 radar and low-altitude navigation and targeting infrared for night pods.
General CharacteristicsPrimary function: Tactical fighter
Contractor: McDonnell Douglas Corp.
Power plant: Two Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 or 229 turbofan engines with afterburners
Thrust: (C/D models) 23,450 pounds each engine
Wing span: 42.8 feet (13 meters)
Length: 63.8 feet (19.44 meters)
Height: 18.5 feet (5.6 meters)
Speed: 1,875 mph (Mach 2.5 plus)
Maximum takeoff weight: (C/D models) 68,000 pounds (30,844 kilograms)
Ceiling: 65,000 feet (19,812 meters)
Range: 3,450 miles (3,000 nautical miles) ferry range with conformal fuel tanks and three external fuel tanks
Crew: F-15A/C: one. F-15B/D/E: two
Armament: One internally mounted M-61A1 20mm 20-mm, six-barrel cannon with 940 rounds of ammunition; four AIM-9L/M Sidewinder and four AIM-7F/M Sparrow air-to-air missiles, or eight AIM-120 AMRAAMs, carried externally.
Unit Cost: A/B models - $30.1 million;C/D models - $34.3 million (flyaway costs)
Date deployed: July 1972
Inventory: Active force, 396; Reserve, 0; ANG,126.
Images Provided by U.S.A.F.
The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is a U.S.A.F. jet fighter plane that was deployed in western Europe by NATO forces in the year 1977. A two-seat, dual-role version, the F-15E, was delivered to the U.S. Air Force in the year 1988.
F-15 Eagle (First Flight 1972)
The first single-seat, twin-engine F-15 flew on July 27, 1972.
Weapons of the U.S. Military
The history behind some of the aircraft, jets, and weapons being used in today's military conflicts.