Photo: Wikimedia Commons
From the moment the F-15 first tore into the sky, it had one primary goal: total air superiority.This meant being punchy yet nimble. It also had to possess strong air-to-ground ability for getting in and out of hot locations and delivering a full complement of bombs.
The Air Force rejected 500 concepts for the fourth-generation fighter before finding the perfect balance.
The final product could fly circles around its contemporary opponent, the MiG-25, which succumbed to the weight and power burden the Air Force rejected.
The F-15 was introduced in 1976 and over its lifetime, as technology improved, the plane improved right with it through modifications and upgrades. This sweet spot has turned it into a unique and unsurpassed modern fighter, which is very much still used by the U.S. and other air forces.
Designed originally starting in 1967, the McDonnell F-15 Eagle had one basic purpose: air superiority.
In total, more than 1,200 F-15s of all variations saw service with several countries; Saudi Arabia, Israel, Japan and others.
How could you not want to get in on this action — not the fastest by a long shot, but by far the most manoeuvrable aircraft in the skies.
More importantly, the fixed wing shape and technology allowed it to bank tightly without losing air speed (this factors in later, during dogfights).
From the pilot's point of view, every time a new weapons system is selected, the HUD automatically updates, showing the pilot specified targeting information.
And American pilots, during the first Gulf War, would prove the Eagle's worth, shooting down 36 of the 39 total Iraqi aircraft losses.
The Iraqis, who were using Russian equivalents, like the Mig-25 Foxbats, found their faster, less manoeuvrable aircraft more useful to flee the fight.
In three days time, the dogfighting was over, and the F-15E variant, more suited for ground combat, started a bombing campaign.
A U.S. pilot was even able to knock an Iraqi helicopter out of the sky with a well placed ground bomb.
All told, the F-15 went 104-0 in dogfights, about half of which came from the success of Israeli pilots.
Despite heavy reliance on heat-seeking missiles and guided bombs, the F-15 still had one 20 mm 6 barreled Gatling canon.
AMRAAM — Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile — a fire and forget medium range, 'beyond-sight' that was perfect for countering faster Russian MiG fighters.
Later in its career, the F-15 was so successful that the Air Force decided to test it in an anti-satellite campaign.
The idea was the the F-15 could act as the first stage of a satellite countermeasure, and a specially designed rocket, the second stage.
Russians could detect normal rockets fired from the ground, but an F-15 would get lost with all the other jets in flight, masking the strike.
With so many F-15s built, around 1200 or so, the U.S. opened up shop, cutting deals with about a half dozen countries.
There's no question, with 9 variants, hundreds of kills, and no American defeats, the F-15 is one of the most successful fighter jets in U.S. history.
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