Boeing performed the maiden flight of the F-15EX fighter jet on Tuesday, in preparation for supplying the aircraft to the U.S. Air Force. The fighter jet took off from St. Louis Lambert International Airport, and performed a 90-minute test flight before returning to the airport.
The USAF signed a contract for the initial supply of eight units of the veteran fighter’s enhanced variant. The first two F-15EXs are expected to be delivered in the first quarter, Boeing said.
“Today’s successful flight proves the jet’s safety and readiness to join our nation’s fighter fleet,” said Prat Kumar, Boeing vice president and F-15 program manager. “Our workforce is excited to build a modern fighter aircraft for the U.S. Air Force. Our customer can feel confident in its decision to invest in this platform that is capable of incorporating the latest advanced battle management systems, sensors and weapons due to the jet’s digital airframe design and open mission systems architecture.”
On the first flight, test pilot Matt Giese performed checks on avionics, software and other supersonic jet systems. Although it shows few visual differences with the first fighters, the F-15EX incorporates several advances such as fly-by-wire flight controls, an all-new digital cockpit, modern AESA radar and the ADCP-II, the world’s fastest mission computer, in addition to be able to transport large quantities of armaments.
The USAF plans to acquire 144 F-15EX fighter jets, but for now, in addition to two eight foreseen in the 2020 budget, it has a request for 12 aircraft in 2021.
In addition to the US, Qatar ordered 36 units of the F-15QA, which follows the same pattern as the EX. The United States government also authorized Boeing to offer fighter jets in an Indian Air Force competition last week.