F-15EX II made ready for delivery to the Oregon ANG

Tails painted — all dressed up for delivery F-15EX EX7 and EX8 get the final touches before they head to their new home with the 142nd Wing, 123rd Fighter Squadron ‘Redhawks.'(movieclip via The Boeing company)


Eagles have landed:  New F-15EXs arrive at Eglin

By Samuel King Jr.

The Air Force’s two newest fighters, F-15EX Eagle IIs, known as EX3 and EX4, touched down at Eglin Dec. 20, 2023 just minutes from each other. 

The new arrivals bring the Air Force’s total F-15EXs to four, all located at Eglin. The two aircraft belong to the 96th Test Wing (EX3) and 53rd Wing (EX4), who also own the initial two fighters.

“The F-15EX has met every challenge we’ve thrown at it to date and the platform is on the cusp of being ready for the warfighter,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Wee, Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force commander. “The delivery of the new aircraft paves the way for not only the delivery of combat coded aircraft to the U.S. Air Force, but also the continued development of this incredible addition to the USAF inventory.”

The new Eagles bring features and capabilities to be tested that the original two jets didn’t have. The cockpit pressure monitor and warning system is a new addition to EX3 and EX4, as well as an ultra-high frequency antenna for satellite communications. The new Eagles also feature a forward fuselage redesigned specifically for the U.S. Air Force.

The F-15EX test platforms at Eglin will accelerate development of capabilities both for the platform itself, and other combat aircraft.

“Our integrated test approach, which combines developmental and operational test, brings the future faster to the warfighter,” said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Geraghty, 96th Test Wing commander. “This ensures the U.S. Air Force continues to provide deterrence and readiness for the high-end fight.”

The F-15EX program at Eglin ends this year with two new aircraft, but the combined test wings kept the two available jets in the air for a very busy 2023. In May, those two aircraft flew to Alaska and participated in and supported Northern Edge 2023. In June, the F-15EX executed advanced weapons integration missions to ensure the aircraft and various munitions flew and communicated with each other properly.

After the integration successes, the F-15EXs flew to Hill AFB, Utah, for Combat Hammer, where the aircraft successfully employed advanced air-to-ground weapons for the first time. These and the efforts over the last two years earned the combined test and evaluation team a glowing report from the Operational Test and Evaluation director.

 The director’s report stated the F-15EX is operationally effective, suitable, and survivable against threats likely to be encountered while performing its missions in threat environments.  This report allows the program to move into a new testing phase. 

“I am tremendously proud of the team and their efforts to foster the F-15EX program,” said Wee. “The F-15EX is the most capable Eagle on the planet, and we are just getting started.” 

The test wings are scheduled to receive two more F-15EX aircraft in the future


Boeing Rolls Out Third F-15EX

Boeing has rolled out the first F-15EX Eagle II in St. Louis that will be delivered later this year to an operational U.S. Air Force squadron, the company said on social media accounts.

The aircraft in yellow and green primer paint was shown crossing a street dividing Boeing’s factory from the airport. The angle showed the aircraft still lacks a full canopy, but includes all other major structural features.

The rollout ends a nearly 2 1/2-year gap since the delivery of the first two F-15EX aircraft to the Air Force in March-April 2021.

The first two Eagle IIs were delivered to the Air Force’s test squadron and sport a slightly different configuration from follow-on deliveries.

The Air Force wanted Boeing to deliver the first two test aircraft as quickly as possible after the program’s go-ahead in the fiscal 2020 budget. So Boeing diverted two aircraft from the F-15QA production batch for Qatar and delivered the aircraft with U.S. markings.

Although technically the first two F-15EX aircraft, the first Eagle IIs delivered to Air Force testers are equipped with provisions for a missile approach warning system that is not part of the U.S. configuration.

Despite not being exact copies, the first two aircraft have completed a series of critical tests, including the revalidation of stations 1 and 9 to enable each F-15EX to carry up to 12 missiles. Flutter concerns had forced the Air Force to stop using stations 1 and 9 on previous F-15s, but the fly-by-wire upgrade ordered for the Royal Saudi Air Force for the F-15SA allowed Boeing engineers to tune out the flutter risk with automated digital signals from the flight controls.

The Air Force’s original scheduled called for Boeing to deliver the first operational version of the F-15EX in December 2022, but the shipments have been delayed by eight months. In June, the Government Accountability Office warned that the schedule slip creates a risk that Boeing could miss other schedule targets, including initial operational capability.