The F-15 Eagle has never lost a battle. However, back in 1979, the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle was largely untested and had never been fired in combat. Nonetheless, a conflict between Israel and Syria that summer would change that. Cockpit footage of such fight was recorded for posterity.
During the Cold War in the Middle East, the Soviets occupied countries like Syria and Egypt with very advanced weaponry. Their preferred choice was the MiG. Israel wanted support from the U.S. to protect itself from a growing threat.
By June 27, 1979, the Israelis had 25 of the F-15 Eagles in their possession, compliments of the U.S., and not a moment too soon. Four Syrian MiG 21s soared into Israeli air space, unexpected and unannounced. Detecting a threat, Israelis alerted four F-15s on their routine patrol.
This wasn’t the first time that Syria flexed their muscles at Israel. Just a few days prior, Syrian Mig 23s fired missiles at an Israeli formation above Lebanon, The Washington Post reported at the time.
Take a look at look at the footage below:
Moshe Melnik, with the Israeli air force, was a top Israeli fighter pilot for over 38 years. It was that very day that he was the pilot who was about to defend Israeli air space in an F-15 that had never been tested in combat before. He received the mission to fire as the Syrian MiG was fast approaching. Melnik launched a missile, but it missed.
Now the MiGs were on high alert and preparing for a counter-attack. They were headed toward Melnick at speeds of 650 mph. Melnick spotted the MiGs and they were just seconds away when he launched the Python 3, designed specifically for the F-15.
Less than 30 seconds after Melnick received his orders, he had blasted the Syrian MiGs out of the sky and took the victory over the Lebanese cities of Tyre and Sidon, about 30 miles north of the Israeli border. Moshe Melnik was the first pilot to shoot down an enemy plane with the F-15 Eagle, however, Melnik was not considered the hero of the engagement.
Fellow Israeli pilot Eitan Ben-Eliyahu received the credit because his kill was scored with his F-15’s M61 gun, while Melnik’s was with an air-to-air missile.
Ivri and Maj. Gen. Yoshua Saguy, chief of intelligence for the Israeli armed forces, said the air battle lasted less than one and a half minutes in total. Afterward, Israeli pilots saw three parachutes descending, but two MiGs exploded and two crashed.
Israel stated at that time they would not suspend use of the advanced F15 fighter-bombers, which Israel bought from the U.S. in 1976, on the condition that their use was restricted to self-defense.