Can the F-15EX become a missile truck for the air force?

The U.S. Air Force is testing the F-15EX Eagle II’s capability to launch long-range air-to-air missiles.

The ultimate goal is to take advantage of the Eagle II’s ability to carry large numbers of missiles, and essentially turn it into a “missile truck.” Put enough missiles into the air, and the F-15EX can clear a path through enemy interceptors for other planes such as the F-35, which is stealthy but carries far fewer weᴀponѕ.

A team from Detachment 6 of the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Detachment (AFOTEC) has been analyzing results from a January weᴀponѕ System Evaluation Program (WSIP) test of the F-15EX II at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The tests include firing the AIM-120C3 and AIM-120D Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM). The radar-guided AIM-120D reportedly has a range of up to 87 miles.

“These missile shots, conducted January 25, showed how the F-15 EX can be employed in theater and provided the context needed for Detachment 6 to verify its combat capability,” the Air Force said in a news release.

“One of the main takeaways from these live fire shots is the jet can clearly function as a long-range, standoff weᴀponѕ system,” said Capt. Max Denbin, lead test engineer for the team.

“The F-15EX can shoot from a significantly increased range – farther than any other fighter in the U.S. Air Force arsenal – and provides the unique capability of holding 12 AMRAAMs or other large ordinance,” Denbin added.

An F-35A Lightning II from the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, and an F-15C Eagle from the 493rd Fighter Squadron, stand by to take-off for a training sortie at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, April 20, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Emerson Nuñez)

The AFOTEC team also examined how the non-stealthy F-15EX – a 21st-century upgrade of the fourth-generation F-15 that was first deployed in the mid-1970s – would integrate with stealthy fifth-generation fighters such as the F-35 and F-22.

“This is a platform that can work with penetrating assets in a network-enabled battlespace with the potential to cause significant problems for our adversaries,” said 1st Lt. Hagan Strader, a lead analyst for the team.

Also being evaluated was the Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS), which provides the F-15E and F-15EX radar warning as well as jamming and other countermeasures. The Eagle II had already used its EPAWSS at Elgin as part of F-35 operational test flights.

Nellis team members load a training missile onto an F-15 Eagle during a weᴀponѕ load competition, June 1, 2019, Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore. weᴀponѕ loaders from the 142nd, 173rd, and 757th Aircraft Maintenance Squadrons out of Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore., Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base, Ore., and Nellis Air Force Base, NV, respectively, competed against each other in a timed weᴀponѕ load as part of the 30-year anniversary celebration of the F-15 Eagles in Portland. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Steph Sawyer, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

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