An F-15C Eagle fighter jet fired the furthest air-to-air missile in history, the United States Air Force (USAF) revealed on April 14, 2021.
The fighter jet, which belonged to the 83d Fighter Weapons Squadron of the 53rd Wing, fired an AIM-120 AMRAAM at a BQM-167 subscale drone near Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, United States.
The USAF did not give the exact distance reached, as that information is strategically important. However, it was defined as the “kill of [an] aerial target from the furthest distance ever recorded” by the 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES) in charge of the test.
“This test effort supported requests from the CAF [Combat Air Force – ed. note] for “long-range kill chain” capabilities,” commented Aaron Osborne of the 28th TES. “Key partnerships within the 53rd Wing enabled the expansion of capabilities on a currently fielded weapons system, resulting in warfighters gaining enhanced weapons employment envelopes.”
In its latest version (AIM-120D), the beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile that first entered service in the early 1990s can reportedly reach distances over 87 miles (100 kilometers). This is made possible notably thanks to the use of GPS-assisted guidance and two-way data link with the aircraft.
The F-15 Eagle air superiority aircraft has been part of the USAF fleet for over 40 years. The USAF hopes to eventually acquire 144 F-15EX Eagle II fighters to replace older F-15C/D models and refresh the F-15 fleet.
The previous record might have been held by the famed AIM-54 Phoenix radar-guided long-range missile that was employed by the late F-14A Tomcat, as reported by The Drive. In January 1979, an AIM-54 hit a target drone at a range of 132 miles (212 km) during a training exercise in Iran.