The US Air Force (USAF) on 25 January completed its first test firing of a missile from a Boeing F-15EX fighter.
The successful launch of the Raytheon-made AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) marks another step toward fielding the F-15EX with combat units.
The F-15EX Eagle II took off from Tyndall AFB and fired the AMRAAM over the Gulf of Mexico at a Kratos Defense BQM-167 aerial target drone.
“During the flight, the F-15EX detected the drone using on-board sensors, acquired a weapons-quality track and launched the missile at the target,” says the USAF. “After tracking the missile’s release and flight toward the BQM-167, the shot was determined a… success, at which point the missile flight was terminated.”
The service plans additional missile tests on the F-15EX.
“This was an end-to-end verification of the entire weapons system, which will pave the way for more complex missile shots,” says Colton Myers, F-15EX test project manager with the USAF’s Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force.
The USAF has run F-15EXs through a series of tests since receiving its first example from Boeing last March. In May, two F-15EXs went to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska for exercise Northern Edge 21.
“The Eagle II was pushed to its limits in the multi-service exercise and a significant amount of data was collected on the aircraft’s internal performance and how it performed with and against other aircraft,” says the USAF.
Later, F-15EXs underwent additional flight and ground testing, including survivability testing in different electromagnetic environments.
“This series of tests lead to the discovery of and resolution of issues identified in the F-15EX’s Suite 9 software system,” says the service.
In October, the military deployed the fly-by-wire aircraft to Nellis AFB in Nevada for further air-to-air combat exercises alongside older F-15Cs and F-15Es. The exercises helped the service observe differences between variants.
The USAF plans to acquire 144 F-15EXs to replace its ageing fleet of F-15C/D models, which are reaching the end of their useful life. The service plans to operate F-15EXs into the 2040s.