The Boeing F-15 Eagle is an all-weather tactical fighter, developed by the United States Air Force to establish and maintain air superiority during combat missions. Originally designed by McDonnell Douglas, prior to its merger with Boeing. First flight of the original F-15A occurred in 1972.
Powered by two Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220/229 turbofan engines with a combined thrust of over 50,000 pounds, the F-15 has a top speed of greater than Mach 2.5.
In early 1975, an F-15A designated "Streak Eagle" broke eight time-to-climb world records. It attained an altitude of 98,425 feet in just under 3 and a half minutes from brake release at takeoff and coasted to nearly 103,000 feet before beginning its descent.
The Eagle entered service in 1974 with the 58th Tactical Training Wing at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.
The F-15E Strike Eagle derivative first flew in 1989, and is currently the USAF's primary fighter-bomber.
McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle
Type: Single seat air-superiority fighter
Powerplant: Two Pratt & Whitney afterburning turbofans, 23,800 lbs of thrust each
Performance: Maximum speed—Mach 2.5. Range—2,878 miles
Weights: Empty—28,000 lbs. Maximum take-off 56,000 lbs.
Dimensions: Wingspan 42 ft. Length 63 ft. 9 in.
- Japan F-15 J/DJ/E (Built through Mitsubishi)
- Israel F-15 A/B/C/D
- Saudi Arabia C/D
- South Korea F-15 E
- United States All variants including experimental models
Israel was the first foreign customer for the F-15, buying 51 of them by 1978. The F-15 first saw combat with the Israeli air force on June 27, 1979. F-15s were escorting a strike mission in southern Lebanon when several Syrian MiG-21s attempted to intercept. The Eagles shot down four MiGs with no loss. Three months later, Israeli Eagles doubled their score when they shot down four more Syrian MiG-21s. During the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, the Syrian Air Force engaged the Israelis over the Bekaa Valley in a series of contests for air superiority. F-15s downed 40 Syrian fighters (MiG-21s and MiG-23s) for no loss (one Eagle was badly damaged by an Atoll missile, but the pilot managed to nurse it back to base). Israel has produced two aces in the F-15, the only Eagle aces in the world.
In 1981, Israeli Eagles provided escort for the successful attack on the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq.
In 2001, Israeli F-15s were in action again, this time against MiG-29s of the Syrian Air Force. Two Eagles on an escort mission shot down two Fulcrums that were threatening a surveillance plane.
The Israeli name for the F-15 Eagle is the Baz (buzzard).
The Royal Saudi Air Force purchased 52 F-15s for air defense in 1983. In consideration of Israeli concerns, the planes were made less capable, particularly against US-made weapons systems, before delivery.
During the Iran-Iraq War, tensions in the area were high. On June 5, 1984, two Iranian F-4 Phantoms were scrambled to attack shipping on the Saudi side of the Persian Gulf. They were detected by a USAF AWACS, and two Saudi F-15s were sent to intercept. When the Phantoms were over the southern Gulf, and still heading south, the Eagles engaged with AIM-7 Sparrow missiles, downing one and seriously damaging the other.
During the Gulf War, Saudi F-15s were involved in combat air patrols over Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf. On January 19, 1991, a Saudi F-15 intercepted two Iraqi Mirage F1s attempting to attack coalition naval vessels in the Gulf. Aided by vectors from a USAF AWACS, the pilot shot down both planes with Sidewinder missiles, resulting in two aerial victories for the coalition and a public relations victory for the Saudi air force.
The F-15's combat debut with the US Air Force was in the Gulf War. On the first night of Desert Storm, January 17, 1991, Eagle pilot Captain John Kelk shot down a MiG-29 with a Sparrow missile for the first air-to-air victory of the war. Eagles downed five more Iraqi planes that night (two more Fulcrums and three Mirages), all with Sparrow missiles. 2 days later, Eagles scored a further six victories. By the end of the war, US Air Force Eagles had shot down 31 Iraqi aircraft, 26 of them fighters, for no losses. After the war, F-15s enforced the no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq.
F-15 in Fiction
While not having as prominent a Hollywood career as its Navy counterpart, the F-14 Tomcat, the Eagle has made appearances in film and television. A flight of F-15s flew to President Harrison Ford's rescue in the movie Air Force One, and two F-15s had a brief and dramatic scene at the end of the CBS series Jericho. In the anime 801 T.T.S. Airbats, one of the characters (briefly) became the first female pilot in an F-15J squadron. The F-15J also played a small role in the anime movie, Patlabor 2.
- Rolling Thunder: Jet Combat From World War II to the Gulf War, by Ivan Rendall, Dell Publishing, 1997
- PLO in Tunisia
- The Long Reach of the IAF
- Israeli-Syrian Shadow Boxing
- F-15C Eagle Units in Combat, by Steve Davies, Osprey Publishing, 2005
- F-15 in Combat
- Air Force Magazine