40 Flight Test SQ

Eagle History

The 40th Flight Test Squadron based at Eglin AFB focuses on executing fighter aircraft development tests for the F-15. This squadron highlights the Air Force Test Center’s relentless focus on the warfighter by providing improved technology to aircraft systems with every single test mission the 40th FLTS Airmen accomplish.

A 40th Flight Test Squadron F-15 Eagle soars upon takeoff for a morning sortie Oct. 23, 2014, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Airmen from the 40th FTS fly operational test missions in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-15 and A-10 Thunderbolt II. The 40th FTS is assigned to the 96th Test Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr./Released)
A U.S. Air Force test pilot and weapons system officer from the 40th Flight Test Squadron fire an Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile during a test mission from an F-15E Strike Eagle, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, July 29, 2019. The 40th FLTS mission is to execute fighter developmental test and support to deliver war-winning
capabilities to the battlefield. 
Maj. Justin Elliott, 40th Flight Test Squadron F-15 flight commander, prepares to deplane after he piloted the first F-15 equipped with the Advanced Display Core Processor II July 8 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Eglin’s Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force has been managing the state-of-the-art program, developed to modernize the Air Force’s F-15 fleet through 2040. (U.S. Air Force Photo/1st Lt. Daniel Lee)

Eglin AFB prepared, ready for F-15EX

By Samuel King Jr. / Published July 29, 2020

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) — In less than a year, Eglin Air Force Base takes possession of the Air Force’s newest fighter, the F-15EX. Big plans and procedures are underway so developmental and operational testing can begin as soon as possible when EX1 and EX2 arrive in 2021.

The Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force will manage the DT and OT planning and provisioning for the aircraft. The 40th Flight Test Squadron will take possession of EX1 and the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron will own EX2. Squadron aircrews and testers will work together to complete the combined DT and OT simultaneously.

“The time has come to upgrade the aging F-15C/D fleet and that presents itself in the form of F-15EX, the most advanced F-15 ever created,” said Maj. Brett Hughes, 40th FLTS lead F-15EX DT pilot. “This represents years of iterative design and battle proven technologies. The 40th FLTS, a squadron full of developmental testers, is ready to meet the challenge of testing America’s newest fighter.”

The F-15 has been a dominant and proven fighter since it entered service in 1976. Currently, there are late 70s F-15 models on Eglin AFB’s ramp testing new aircraft capabilities with each flight. This is a testament to the airframe design, avionics and maintenance working on the aircraft. The F-15EX will continue to ensure that air superiority for decades ahead, according to Maj. Aaron Eshkenazi, 85th TES F-15EX OT lead pilot.

Both pilots agreed the EX design has the future in mind. Although the new aircraft looks like an F-15, its digital flight controls, advanced cockpit touch displays, new sensors and advanced computer technology take this Eagle well beyond its older brethren.

These upgrades make the F-15EX extremely capable and rapidly adaptable to new weapons and technologies. The F-15EX also has the ability to carry over three times the weapons payload of an F-35, which will make its presence critical on the battlefield, according to Eshkenazi.

To maintain these fighter advancements, select Airmen from the 96th Maintenance Group will undergo familiarization classroom academics and transfer to hands-on training upon the aircraft’s arrival here. These newly qualified technicians will become the trainers for the maintenance group.

Coordination between the 96th MXG and multiple F-15EX affiliated agencies is ongoing to resolve any issues and ensure the unit is ready to support the new F-15 variant, according to Senior Master Sgt. Craig Krebsbach, 96th MXG F-15EX lead.

The aircrew will also receive Boeing training as well as an F-15EX simulator, expected to arrive this year. This will provide many of the pilots with their first hands-on experience with the new aircraft’s design.

The transition for aircrew and maintenance is much simpler since certain elements of the F-15 remain the same with the biggest differences being engines, flight controls and displays. The intent is for all of the squadrons’ aircrew to be F-15EX trained.

This is only the practical side of the preparations for the new aircraft. Engineering and program-management personnel coordinated for the past year and a half to be ready.

“The combined Eglin (AFB) team participated in hundreds of preparatory events in order to help guide the F-15EX program’s success,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Wee, OFP CTF director of operations.

The EXs will roll off the assembly line with ET and OT emblazoned on their tail flash. Then, the aircraft undergo functional flight checks before military aircrews are allowed to strap in and finally bring them to Eglin AFB.

Upon arrival, the EX’s initial missions will be aircrew familiarization and local airspace flights. After that, aircrews begin test and evaluation of the aircraft’s Air Force-specific hardware, software and weapons. The EX build comes from F-15 models previously manufactured under foreign military sales contracts with other countries.

Initial testing will focus on ensuring the software and avionics systems integrate well with the aircraft’s features like the advanced cockpit and controls.

The goal of the integrated DT and OT is to ensure the EX meets the needs of the warfighter in its intended operational environment. This enables Eglin AFB’s testers to highlight any system issues early, so they can be fixed before the F-15EX’s increased production and ultimate delivery to the squadrons. The initial phase of tests will take approximately a year and a half.

“This program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to test a new aircraft from the ground up and be a part of America’s future air dominance,” Hughes said.

The F-15 EX marks the third new Air Force aircraft assigned to Eglin AFB in just two years. The HH-60W Jolly Green and the MH-139A Grey Wolf are also in developmental testing at the installation.

Squadron Photos

F-16s and F-15s from the 40th Flight Test Squadron set their formation before the Salute to Health Care Workers over the Emerald Coast near Eglin Air Force Base, FL on 14 May, 2020. The jets overflew 6 different locations in support of those who are on the frontlines in the fight against Covid-19. (Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. John Raven)
An F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet assigned to the 40th Test and Evaluation Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base, takes off from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Oct. 15, 2021. The F-15E is taking part in the test and evaluation of the two F-15EX aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by William R. Lewis)
An F-15EX Eagle II Fighter Jet assigned to the 40th Flight Test Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base, takes off from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Oct. 19, 2021. Two F-15EX aircraft assigned to Eglin AFB are at Nellis AFB to conduct test and training missions to evaluate aircraft effectiveness in its air-to-air mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by William R. Lewis)
Two F-15E Strike Eagles and two F-15EX Eagle II aircraft assigned to 53rd Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, sit on the ramp at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. The aircraft are at Nellis AFB to conduct Integrated Operational Test and Evaluation along with F-15C aircraft from the 123rd Fighter Squadron, Portland Air National Guard Base, Oregon. (U.S. Air Force photo by William R. Lewis)
An F-15EX Eagle II Fighter Jet assigned to the 40th Flight Test Squadron, prepares for departure at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Oct. 20, 2021. Both of the Air Force’s F-15EX aircraft assigned to Eglin AFB are at Nellis AFB to conduct test and training missions to determine how effective and suitable the aircraft is in its air-to-air mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by William R. Lewis)
An F-15EX Eagle II fighter jet assigned to the 40th Flight Test Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, taxis before taking off from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Oct. 20, 2021. Aircraft from Nellis AFB, Eglin AFB and the Oregon Air National Guard are providing support for the Test and Evaluation of the F-15EX in operationally realistic scenarios. This testing will help determine how effective and suitable the F-15EX is at accomplishing its air-to-air mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by William R. Lewis)
An F-15EX Eagle II Fighter Jet assigned to the 40th Flight Test Squadron, taxis before taking off from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Oct. 20, 2021. Aircraft from Nellis AFB, Eglin AFB Florida, and the Oregon Air National Guard are providing support for the Test and Evaluation of the F-15EX in operationally realistic scenarios to determine how effective and suitable the aircraft is at accomplishing its air-to-air mission for future Air Force use. (U.S. Air Force photo by William R. Lewis)