The US Air Force is testing its first two F-15EX fighter jets in Alaska as part of a military exercise called Northern Edge 21 less than two months after they were delivered.
The F-15EXs are being tested in a “complex jamming environment” to assess their GPS, radar and Link 16 jamming, amongst other test points.
Boeing’s F-15EX fighter jet completed its first test flight in February. The two-seat fighter will replace the oldest F-15C/Ds in the US Air Force’s fleet. Last July the US Air Force awarded Boeing a contract to build eight jets. Future plans call for up to 144 F-15EXs to be built.
Major Aaron Eshkenazi, F-15EX pilot from the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron said, “The other main goal is assessing the EX’s interoperability with fourth and fifth-generation assets.
“With more than 60 aircraft airborne during every vulnerability period at Northern Edge, we’re putting the jet in the role it will perform in once it’s fielded and seeing how it does. So far, it’s been performing really well.”
F-15EX pilots and test engineers at Northern Edge are participating from the 85th Test Evaluation Squadron, 53rd Wing, 40th Flight Test Squadron and 96th Test Wing to test the new aircraft. Test points being covered include:
- Performance of the cockpit system, large area displays, and the new helmet
- Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System performance
- Overall radar performance
- Interoperability with other platforms
Colonel Ryan Messer, 53rd Wing commander said, “Northern Edge is the ideal initial stress test for the platform, and we are fully integrating it just like any other aircraft participating. The objective of operational tests isn’t for everything to go perfectly, but to identify what needs improvement, and Northern Edge, with its opportunities for fourth-fifth generation integration in a complex range environment, will show us exactly that.”
Major Brett Hughes, F-15EX pilot, 40th Flight Test Squadron said, “Getting F-15EXs to Northern Edge on time to support the exercise was a massive undertaking by all involved given the tight timelines between aircraft delivery and now.
“Despite arriving at Eglin AFB less than one and a half months ago, and less than two weeks ago for EX-2, both aircraft arrived in time.
“The end of the exercise will represent just the beginning of EX testing, but proves the rapid test efforts of developmental testing and operational testing integration and showcasing innovation through integration.”
During Northern Edge, some pilots flew the F-15EX for the second time ever, transitioning easily from the F-15C, said the US Air Force.
Northern Edge 21 is a US Indo-Pacific Command exercise designed to provide high-end, realistic war fighter training, develop and improve joint interoperability, and enhance the combat readiness of participating forces.