The F-15EX Eagle II fired its first missile during a test flight above the Gulf of Mexico.
The test was carried out by the 40th Flight Test Squadron of the United States Air Force. It took place on January 25, 2021, and saw the new variant of the air superiority fighter fire an AIM-120D AMRAAM missile.
After taking off from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, the aircraft detected its target, a BQM-167 drone, using onboard sensors and launched the air-to-air missile. The weapon correctly tracked the drone, and its flight was terminated.
“This was an end-to-end verification of the entire weapons system, which will pave the way for more complex missile shots in the future,” said Colton Myers, F-15EX test project manager with the Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force.
The first two F-15EX were delivered on March 10 and April 20, 2021, at Eglin Air Force Base, South Florida. Between May 3 and 14, 2021, the aircraft participated in the Northern Edge exercise in Alaska to test their behavior in a jamming situation.
The latest iteration of the F-15 Eagle air superiority aircraft, the F-15EX features an increased payload capacity, fly-by-wire controls, a digital cockpit, modernized sensors, radars, and electronic warfare capabilities. It is partly based on the F-15QA (for “Qatar Advanced”) specifically developed for the Qatari Air Force.
While the aging airframe is not up to par with the 5th generation fighters, it is expected to eventually provide the USAF with a cheaper alternative to carry out missions of airspace and base defense. The fighter should be capable of carrying one of the hypersonic weapons that the USAF is currently developing.