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PICS/VIDEO: Air Force unveils new F-15EX fighter jet dubbed ‘Eagle II’

The U.S. Air Force unveils and names the F-15EX Eagle II at an unveiling ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, April 7, 2021. (U.S. Air Force/Released)
April 07, 2021

On Wednesday, the U.S. Air Force unveiled and named its new F-15EX fighter jet, the “Eagle II” during an unveiling ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

The Eagle II is an upgraded variant of the Air Force’s F-15 Eagle fighter jet, which has been in service since 1976. The Air Force unveiled the new fighter jet in a livestreamed event on Facebook.

The unveiling ceremony comes less than a month after Eglin received the first F-15EX Eagle II variants for operational tests.

Brig. Gen. Scott A. Cain is the Commander, 96th Test Wing, Air Force Materiel Command at Eglin Air Force Base, said, “The F-15, with each of its models, has been a venerable workhorse for the United States and its allies for decades. It’s proven itself time and time again with its unmatched versatility and lethality in combat and its deterrent capability in peacetime. So it stands to reason then that the EX will build upon that legacy.”

Lt. Col. Richard “Tac” Turner and Lt. Col. Jacob “Duke” Lindaman, deliver the first F-15EX to Eglin AFB, Florida, 11 March, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. John Raven)

Lt. Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, Military Deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, said the new F-15EX was developed within nine months of Boeing receiving the contract award for the new variant. Richardson said such contracts typically take 39 months to fulfill, but that the Air Force worked aggressively with Boeing to complete the project.

Richardson said the new F-15EX comes as 75 percent of the current F-15C and D variant fleet is currently serving beyond its certified service life while another 10 percent of the fleet is grounded due to “structural integrity issues.”

The F-15EX Eagle II, the Air Force’s newest fighter aircraft, arrives to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida March 11. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Karissa Rodriguez/Released)

Richardson said the most significant change with the new F-15 variant is its open system architecture, which allows the Air Force to rapidly add new aircraft technologies, “allowing it to quickly evolve to emerging threats.”

The new F-15 also has a large weapons capacity, including the ability to carry new hypersonic weapons.

“With its large weapons capacity, digital backbone and open architecture, the F-15EX will be a key element of our tactical fighter fleet and compliment 5th generation assets for decades to come” Richardson said.

The F-15EX Eagle II, the Air Force’s newest fighter aircraft, arrives to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida March 11. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Karissa Rodriguez/Released)

During the unveiling ceremony, Leanne Caret, the CEO and president of Boeing Defense, Space & Security said, “This is a 21st-century fighter built with a 21st-century digital approach. It will meet not only the challenges of today, but it will outpace tomorrow’s evolving threats.”

Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, the Director of the Air National Guard, said the F-15EX Eagle II comes amid an era of great power competition. “We must ensure that we have the most capable combat aircraft defending our shores during this time of great power competition.”

The F-15EX Eagle II, the Air Force’s newest fighter aircraft, arrives to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida March 11. (U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr./Released)

Loh said the Air National Guard plans to replace all of its F-15Cs and Ds with either the F-35A or the F-15EX.

“The Air National Guard flies 93 percent of homeland defense missions,” Loh said. “And along with the F-35A, the new F-15EX will ensure that legacy for many decades to come.”

Richardson said the Air Force is initially ordering 144 of the new F-15 variants to replace the F-15C fleet.

The first F-15EX Eagle II parks next to a F-15E Strike Eagle on the ramp at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., after delivery 11 March, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Hoskins/Released)

Boeing has said units transitioning to the new F-15EX Eagle II will be able to do so “within weeks or months, not years.”