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The new F-15EX took a 'major step' closer to carrying more air-to-air missiles than all other US Air Force fighters in testing

  • 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.

F-15 Station shot.

F-15 Station shot.

Courtesy photo, Eglin Air Force Base

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.”

The advanced F-15EX Eagle II is a two-seater aircraft capable of carrying up to 30,000 pounds of missiles and munitions. The plane was unveiled in the summer of 2021 after a short development period.

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.”

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