While the USAF was developing a close-range fighter to address problems encountered during the Vietnam War, the Soviet MiG-25 added extreme speed to their already lengthy list of requirements.
McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) was awarded the contract for the F-15 Advanced Tactical Fighter after more than two years of intensive testing and evaluation.
The first F-15A flight was made in July 1972, and in January 1976, the first Eagle destined for a combat squadron was delivered.
This aircraft was built with the fundamental principles of lightweight and tons of power in mind, allowing it to outperform anything the enemy could throw at it.
To achieve this the F-15’s twin engines (Pratt & Whitney F-100-PW-220s or 229s) have a very high thrust-to-weight ratio and can generate almost eight times their own weight in thrust.
When you combine the plane’s relatively light body, which is mostly metal aside from the 26 to 27 percent titanium with about 5 to 7% composites, and low wing load with its powerful engines, you get a fighter that is extremely fast and agile.
While it can cruise at speeds of mach 0.9, at full force, an F-15 can get up to more than Mach 2.5 (approximately 1,854 mph / 2,984 kph).
In 1975, it established a world record by going from a standstill on the ground to an altitude of nearly 100,000 feet in under three and a half minutes!
The basic F-15, unlike the double-seat F4 and F-14, was a single-seat interceptor. The cockpit was raised, and a new, fairly wide one-piece windscreen was installed. The aircraft was also outfitted with the most up-to-date onboard controls for systems, communications and weapons.
Raytheon’s game-changing all-weather, multimode APG-63 radar was also installed on the F-15
This radar was one of the first fire-control radars
This aircraft’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 Eagles can be armed with combinations of different air-to-air weapons: 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 as well as the Boeing-built Small Diameter Bomb I, Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and Laser JDAM weapons.
The F-15 has been produced in single-seat A model and two-seat B versions.
The single-seat F-15C and two-seat F-15D models entered the Air Force inventory beginning in 1979.
To meet the U.S. Air Force requirement for air-to-ground missions, the F-15E Strike Eagle was developed and entered service in 1988.
The F-15E is a two-seat, dual-role, totally integrated fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and deep interdiction missions.
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.
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.
F-15C fighters accounted for 34 of the 37 USAF air-to-air victories.
F-15E’s were operated mainly at night, hunting SCUD missile launchers and artillery sites using the LANTIRN system.
The F-15EX is an immediate replacement for the F-15C with best-in-class payload, range, and speed.
This aircraft was designed to provide value to the US Air Force and will be a backbone fighter for the service for the next several decades.