By 1st Lt. Karissa Rodriguez
Lt. Gen. Duke Richardson, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics military deputy, presented the F-15EX during an unveiling and naming ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base, April 7.
“Undefeated in aerial combat, the F-15 Eagle epitomized air superiority in the minds of our enemies, allies, and the American people for over 45 years, but it was not meant to fly forever. We heard the demand signal from our warfighters,” Richardson said. “I’m pleased to say we’ve responded boldly and decisively, with a proven platform that’s modernized and optimized to maintain air superiority now and into the future.”
The ceremony celebrated the historic arrival of the dynamic new fighter aircraft. This process began several years ago, as a combined Air Force effort to bring the best in response capability.
“Team Eglin and the 96th Test Wing are proud to be a part of the rich history of this legendary aircraft,” said Brig. Gen. Scott Cain, 96th Test Wing commander.
The EX provides a unique opportunity for the test enterprise as it is the first Air Force aircraft to be completely tested and fielded through combined developmental and operational test efforts.
The official role of the EX is to meet capacity requirements while bringing diverse technology ensuring the platform’s relevance for decades to come.
The 96th TW and the 53rd Wing are set to begin test and evaluation efforts. The 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron will work closely with the 40th Flight Test Squadron to integrate testing, from start to finish.
The Air Force will procure up to 144 F-15EXs from Boeing, to replace F-15C/D models. The goal is to increase the F-15 fleet fighter readiness.
The 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base, Oregon is in line to become the first F-15EX formal training unit in 2024. The first operational F-15EX squadron will function in the Oregon ANG for critical homeland defense alert missions.
“Since 1985 the F-15 has had a home in the Guard and Guard Airmen have flown these amazing aircraft both in the defense of the homeland and in every major international conflict since the first Gulf War in 1991,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, ANG director. “Now that is the battle-tested legacy of Guard F-15s – first to the fight, always ready and always there.”