The US Air Force’s new F-15EX fighter jet completed its first flight from Boeing’s St. Louis plant on Tuesday, ahead of the delivery of the first two jets to the service later in the quarter.
According to video footage shared by Boeing, the jet performed a “Viking takeoff,” as the unrestricted climb maneuver performed at St. Louis Lambert International Airport is referred to by Boeing itself.
The jet completed a 90-minute test flight before returning to the airport.
Boeing F-15 Chief Test Pilot Matt Giese checked out the multirole jet’s avionics, advanced systems and software. A test team monitoring the data collected during the flight in real time confirmed that the aircraft performed as planned.
“Today’s successful flight proves the jet’s safety and readiness to join our nation’s fighter fleet,” said Prat Kumar, Boeing vice president and F-15 program manager. “Our workforce is excited to build a modern fighter aircraft for the US Air Force. Our customer can feel confident in its decision to invest in this platform that is capable of incorporating the latest advanced battle management systems, sensors and weapons due to the jet’s digital airframe design and open mission systems architecture.”
The F-15EX will replace the oldest F-15C/Ds in the US Air Force inventory. Eight F-15EX aircraft were approved in the fiscal year 2020 budget and 12 were requested in the FY21 budget. Boeing is ready to deliver the first two F-15s in this quarter, while the remaining six aircraft are scheduled to deliver in fiscal year 2023.
The most significant difference between the F-15EX and legacy F-15s lies in its open mission systems (OMS) architecture. The OMS architecture will enable the rapid insertion of the latest aircraft technologies. The F-15EX will also have fly-by-wire flight controls, digital cockpit systems, and the latest mission systems and software capabilities available for legacy F-15s.
In addition to a modern AESA radar, F-15EX features the Eagle Passive/Active Warning and Survivability System electronic warfare system to improve mission effectiveness and survivability for operators.
US Air Force plans call for the construction of as many as 144 F-15EX aircraft.