McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle

TYPE: Air superiority fighter

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United States of America

POWERPLANTS: F-15G - Two 65.3kN (14,670lb) dry and 105.7kN (23,770lb) with afterburning Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 turbofans.

PERFORMANCE: F-15G - Max level speed over Mach 2.5, or approx 2655km/h (1433kt). Max initial rate of climb over 50,000ft/min. Service ceiling 60,000ft. Ferry range with external fuel and conformal fuel tanks over 5745km (3100nm). Combat radius on an intercept mission 1965km (1060nm). Endurance with conformai fuel tanks 5hr 15min.

WEIGHTS: F-15C - Operating empty 12,793kg (28,600lb), max takeoff 30,845kg (68,000lb).

DIMENSIONS: Wing span 13.05m (42ft 10in), length 19.43m (63ft 9in), height 5.63m (18ft 6in). Wing area 56.5m2 (608.0sq ft).

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only, or two in tandem in F-15B/D.

ARMAMENT: One M61A1 20mm Vulcan cannon. Can carry total external ordnance load of 7257kg (16,000lb). Typical CAP fit of four AIM-7 Sparrows on fuselage corner stations and two AIM-9 Sidewinder or AIM-120 Amraams on each wing pylon.

OPERATORS: Japan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, USA.

HISTORY: Without doubt the pre-eminent air superiority fighter since the mid 1970s (backed by a 70+ to nil kill ratio), the F-15 Eagle's airto- air abilities are only challenged by the Sukhoi Su-27.

Design work on a new fighter for the USAF first began in the mid 1960s, although the program gained fresh impetus later that decade when US spy satellites revealed the existence of the MiG-23 and the fast, high flying MiG-25. The FX requirement took in the hard learnt air combat lessons of Vietnam and called for a fighter with a thrust to weight ratio in excess of unity and that could out turn any potential adversary to bring its missiles to bear first.

McDonnell Douglas's design was chosen ahead of proposals from Fairchild-Republic and North American Rockwell, with the result that the first development F-15 Eagle took to the skies for the first time on July 27 1972. Design features of the F-15 include the specifically developed P&W F100 turbofans (selected ahead of a GE design), the Hughes APG-63 radar, a high wing of great area and then advanced cockpit displays, including a HUD.

The F-15 subsequently entered service in January 1976, and 355 F-15AS and 57 two seat F-15Bs were built. Israel was the first F-15 export customer, and that nation's Eagles were the first to be used in combat. Production switched to the improved F-15C/D in 1979. Changes are minor but include the ability to carry the conformai fuel tanks (CFTs) on each fuselage side, uprated engines and improved radar. The C was exported to Israel and Saudi Arabia and Mitsubishi built it under licence in Japan as the F-15J. US F-15C/D production ceased in 1992 (622 built). Saudi and US F-15s flew extensive combat air patrols during the Gulf War in 1991, claiming 32 Iraqi aircraft without loss.

Both the F-15A and F-15C are being upgraded under the Multi Stage Improvement Program (MSIP) to feature the Hughes APG-70 radar, a colour CRT in the cockpit and AIM-120 compatibility. Once the F-22 is introduced into service next century its likely that surplus F-15s will be converted for the SEAD or Wild Weasel role.

 

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