The second Boeing F-15EX Eagle II multi-role fighter for the US Air Force (USAF) has been delivered to the 53rd Wing at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida.
The aircraft – serial 20-0002, carrying 53rd Wing’s tail code ‘OT’ and also marked with ’53 WG’ titles – was flown in on April 20 by F-15 pilot Maj Aaron Eshkenazi. It has been assigned to the Wing’s 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES) to support the platform’s developmental and operational test (DT/OT) campaign.
Col Ryan Messer, commander of the 53rd Wing, said: “The 53d Wing is honoured to welcome the second-ever F-15EX and we are extremely proud that it displays the 'OT' tail flash. However, that 'OT' represents more than just unit pride; it showcases the importance of early integration of operational and developmental test to directly fulfill the National Defense Strategy, which proclaims that, 'success no longer goes to the country that develops a new technology first, but rather to the one that better integrates it and adapts its way of fighting'; a statement we believe and live out in all of our missions.’”
This is the second and final F-15EX delivered to Eglin AFB and the USAF in FY21. The first had arrived at Eglin on March 11. The two F-15EXs and testers from the 40th Flight Test Squadron (FLTS) and 85th TES will work together in an integrated DT/OT campaign, effectively expediting the test timeline. DT/OT integration provides means for the F-15EX to get in the hands of the warfighter as soon as possible, while also ensuring the test regime proceeds in parallel. The F-15EX will make its exercise debut at Northern Edge 2021, proving the rapid test efforts of the DT/OT integration.
In total, the USAF intends to acquire 144 examples of the Eagle II from Boeing. These aircraft will be used to replace the air force’s ageing Boeing F-15C/D Eagle fighter fleet, which boasts an average age of more than 37 years. According to the service, these two matured variants of the Eagle family are rapidly approaching the end of their useful service lives, adding that these aircraft are already operating on the margins of structural integrity.