- The newest Air Force fighter jet recently conducted a successful missile test.
- The test was a big step for the F-15EX Eagle II, a new aircraft slated to replace aging F-15s.
- This brings it closer to being able to carry more missiles than any other USAF fighter jet.
The US Air Force’s newest fighter aircraft — the F-15EX Eagle II — recently conducted a successful missile test that brought the aircraft closer to being able to hold more air-to-air missiles than any other jet in the service.
During a testing in late November, two F-15EX fighter jets from the 96th Test Wing fired air-to-air missiles over a training range in the Gulf of Mexico, Eglin Air Force Base revealed in a statement Wednesday.
The fighters fired an AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile from Station 1 and AIM-9X from Station 9, marking the first confirmation in testing that missiles could be launched “effectively and safely” from these stations or hardpoints.
“The successful employment of these weapons is a major step in demonstrating the Eagle II aircraft’s missile capacity of 12 air-to-air missiles,” the Air Force said, adding that the testing showed how the F-15EX can carry a larger payload of weapons than its predecessor, the F-15 Eagle.
Unlike the F-15 Eagle, which can carry only eight missiles, the Boeing-made F-15EX has been equipped with four additional missile slots located near the aircraft’s wing tips, bringing a firepower boost as the Air Force looks to the Eagle II to maintain its air superiority.
As Defense News reported, the F-15EX Eagle II will also carry more missiles than the other fighter jets in the Air Force’s inventory. The F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-22 Raptor, and F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter can hold up to six, eight, and six missiles respectively.
Maj. Jeremy Schnurbusch, an Air force pilot who fired one of the missiles during the recent test mission, called the event a “milestone” for the aircraft’s ability “to deliver increased payload capacity to the combat air forces.”
In July 2020, the US Air Force awarded a contract to Boeing for the aircraft, which is meant to replace the Air Force’s highly successful but aging fleet of F-15C/D fighter jets.
An F-15EX successfully fired its first missile in late-January 2022, launching a medium-range air-to-air missile at a target drone over the Gulf of Mexico.
Following the recent test, the Air Force said that after testing wraps up, operational units will receive F-15EX fighters able to carry a full load of 12 missiles.
Lt. Col. Christopher Wee, commander of the recent mission, said in the statement that the F-15EX is “an incredible addition to the USAF inventory.”