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F-15 Eagle McDonnell Douglas
(now Boeing)
F-15 Eagle
Air Superiority Fighter

Forseeing the need to replace its fleet of F-4 Phantoms, the US Air Force issued the FX requirement for a long-range air superiority fighter in 1965. Performance requirements called for beyond visual range air-to-air capability, close-in dogfighting capability, twin engines, an internal gun, sufficient ferry range to deploy to Europe without refueling, and a maximum speed of Mach 2.5. McDonnell Douglas was selected over rivals North American and Fairchild Republic to build what would become the F-15 Eagle.

The McDonnell Douglas approach incorporated advanced aerodynamics into a large wing that gives the F-15 a low wing loading and good agility for such a large aircraft. However, transonic buffet and flutter problems were encountered in early flight tests requiring an enlarged airbrake, cropping of the trailing edges of the wingtips, and adding notched dogtooths to the tailplanes. The addition of external compression adjustable inlets and the extensive use of titanium allowed the F-15 to meet its Mach 2.5 speed requirement at high altitude, though the speed is limited to Mach 1.78 when armed. The F-15 revolutionized cockpit design by seating the pliot high under a large canopy to provide excellent visibility, and the use of a Hands On Throttle and Stick (HOTAS) arrangement places all vital controls near the pilots hands.

Although the Air Force had originally intended to order some 730 F-15A single-seat fighters and F-15B two-seat combat-capable trainers, only about 410 were built before production switched to the more capable F-15C/D models. These newer aircraft feature a new radar warning receiver, software updates, and conformal fuel tanks along the sides of the engine inlets that provide increased fuel capacity while not interfering with weapons carriage. Later F-15C/D models also received more powerful F100-220 engines plus the faster APG-70 radar with better resolution and greater memory when compared to the earlier APG-63.

Older F-15A/B and F-15C/D models have also been progressively upgraded through an ambitious Mid-Service Improvement Program (MSIP). Among the updates include upgrading to newer variants of the APG-63 radar, intoducing new avionics, and replacing outdated analog computers with digital central processors. Other advances include adding a new weapons display screen, improving internal countermeasures, and adding compatibility with the AIM-120 AMRAAM. The potential of the basic F-15 airframe has been further exploited through the development of the two-seat F-15E strike model that adds a potent surface attack capability.

Older F-15A/C vehicles will begin to be replaced by the F-22 by about 2010, and some of the displaced fighters will likely be converted for use as air defense suppression aircraft.

Data below for F-15C
Last modified 17 March 2011

First Flight (F-15A) 27 July 1972
(F-15B) 7 July 1973
(F-15C) 26 February 1979
(F-15D) 19 June 1979
Service Entry

(F-15A) 9 January 1976
(F-15B) 14 November 1974
(F-15C) September 1979
(F-15D) December 1979

CREW: (F-15A/C) one: pilot
(F-15B/D) two: pilot, instructor


(F-15A/B) $27.9 million [1998$]
(F-15C/D) $29.9 million [1998$]

Wing Root NACA 64A(.055)5.9
Wing Tip

NACA 64A203

Length 63.75 ft (19.43 m)
Wingspan 42.81 ft (13.05 m)
Height 18.46 ft (5.63 m)
Wing Area 608 ft (56.48 m)
Canard Area

not applicable

Empty 28,600 lb (12,975 kg)
Normal Takeoff (F-15A) 41,500 lb (18,885 kg)
(F-15C) 44,630 lb (20,245 kg)
Max Takeoff (F-15A) 56,000 lb (25,400 kg)
(F-15C) 68,000 lb (30,845 kg)
Fuel Capacity (F-15A)
internal: 11,600 lb (5,260 kg)
external: 11,895 lb (5,395 kg)
internal: 13,455 lb (6,105 kg)
external: 9,750 lb (4,425 kg)
Max Payload

(F-15A) 16,000 lb (7,260 kg)
(F-15C) 16,000 lb (7,260 kg) with conformal fuel tanks
(F-15C) 23,600 lb (10,705 kg) without conformal fuel tanks

Powerplant (F-15A) two Pratt & Whitney F100-100 afterburning turbofans
(F-15C) two Pratt & Whitney F100-220 afterburning turbofans
Thrust (F-15A) 29,340 lb (130.52 kN)
(F-15A) 47,660 lb (212.0 kN) with afterburner
(F-15C) 29,340 lb (130.52 kN)
(F-15C) 47,660 lb (212.0 kN) with afterburner

Max Level Speed at altitude: 1,665 mph (2,655 km/h) at 36,000 ft (10,975 m), Mach 2.5
at sea level: unknown
cruise speed: 570 mph (915 km/h)
Initial Climb Rate 50,000 ft (15,240 m) / min
Service Ceiling 65,000 ft (19,810 m)
100,000 ft (30,840 m) [absolute ceiling]
Range typical: 2,120 nm (3,930 km)
ferry: 2,500 nm (4,630 km) without conformal fuel tanks
ferry: 3,100 nm (5,745 km) with conformal fuel tanks
Endurance 5 hr 15 min with conformal fuel tanks
15 hr with in-flight refueling
g-Limits +9 / -3

Gun one 20-mm M61A1 Vulcan cannon (940 rds)
Stations seven external hardpoints
Air-to-Air Missile AIM-7 Sparrow, AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-120 AMRAAM, Python 3, Python 4
Air-to-Surface Missile AGM-88 HARM
Bomb none
Other ECM pods

F-15A Production single-seat fighter; 355 built
F-15B or TF-15A Two-seat combat-capable trainer; 57 built
F-15C Upgraded one-seat fighter with updated avionics and conformal fuel tanks vastly improving the aircraft's range; 408 built
F-15D Upgraded two-seat combat-capable trainer based on the F-15C; 61 built
F-15E Two-seat multi-role fighter with ground attack capability provided by a synthetic aperture radar, LANTIRN targeting pods containing FLIR and terrain-following radar equipment, and increased weapons load; 209 built
F-15F Proposed single-seat fighter based on the F-15E airframe incoporating the F-15E's new engines, radar, and cockpit displays, Saudi Arabia originally ordered 24 of these plus 48 two-seat combat-capable trainer models; not built
F-15/HARM or F-15/PDF Program proposed to convert F-15C/D airframes into defense suppression aircraft carrying HARM missiles; these Precision Direction Finder aircraft would be withdrawn, modified, and reintroduced as the F-22 enters service in the air superiority role
F-15 Baaz Surplus USAF F-15A/B and new-build F-15C/D aircraft sold to Israel; at least 63 (35 F-15A, 2 F-15B, 18 F-15C, 8 F-15D) purchased
F-15J Japanese fighter interceptor based on the F-15C but lacking the F-15C's ECM, radar warning, and nuclear delivery equipment, many license built by Mitsubishi; 211 built
F-15DJ Japanese two-seat combat-capable trainer model based on the F-15D; 12 built
F-15 SMTD F-15B airframe converted as a testbed for short take-off/landing and manuever technologies including thrust vectoring, canards, and advanced pilot interfaces, 138 flights completed between 1988 and 1991; 1 converted
F-15XP Designation originally given to the F-15F single-seat and two-seat aircraft
F-15XX Proposed new-build F-15 with a new radar and various avionics improvements offered as a cheaper alternative to the F-22; cancelled


shot down 5 Syrian MiG-21s (Israel, 1979)
Iraq - Osirak nuclear reactor strike (Israel, 1981)
Lebanon (Israel, 1982)
shot down 2 Iranian F-4Es (Saudi Arabia, 1984)
Tunisia - PLO headquarters strike (Israel, 1985)
Iraq - Operation Desert Storm (USAF, Saudi Arabia, 1991)
Iraq - Operation Northern Watch (USAF, 1991-2003)
Iraq - Operation Southern Watch (USAF, 1991-2003)
Bosnia - Operation Deliberate Force (USAF, 1995)
Iraq - Operation Desert Fox (USAF, 1998)
Kosovo - Operation Allied Force (USAF, 1999)
US Homeland Security - Operation Noble Eagle (USAF, 2001-present)
Afghanistan - Operation Enduring Freedom (USAF, 2001-present)
Iraq - Operation Iraqi Freedom (USAF, 2003-present)


Israel, Tsvah Haganah le Israel - Heyl Ha'Avir (Israeli Defence Force - Air Force)
Japan, Nihon Koku-Jieitai (Japan Air Self Defence Force)
Saudi Arabia (Royal Saudi Army Air Arm)
United States (US Air Force)
United States (US Air National Guard)


F-15 Eagle

  • Bishop, Chris, ed. The Encyclopedia of Modern Military Weapons: The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1,000 Weapon Systems from 1945 to the Present Day. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1999, p. 246, 281.
  • Boeing F-15 site
  • Bonds, Ray, ed. The Modern US War Machine: An Encyclopedia of American Military Equipment and Strategy. NY: Military Press, 1987, p. 198-199.
  • Donald, David, ed. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1997, p. 613, McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle.
  • Donald, David and Lake, Jon, ed. The Encyclopedia of World Military Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 2000, p. 271-274, McDonnell Douglas F-15A/B Eagle, McDonnell Douglas F-15C/D Eagle.
  • Gunston, Bill, ed. The Encyclopedia of Modern Warplanes. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1995, p. 176-177, McDonnell Douglas F-15A/C Eagle, F-15B/D Eagle.
  • Gunston, Bill and Spick, Mike. Modern Air Combat: The Aircraft, Tactics and Weapons Employed in Aerial Combat Today. NY: Crescent Books, 1983, p. 124-125.
  • Isby, David C. Jane's Fighter Combat in the Jet Age. London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1997, p. 186.
  • Laur, Timothy M. and Llanso, Steven L. Encyclopedia of Modern U.S. Military Weapons. NY: Berkley Books, 1995, p. 85-88, Eagle (F-15).
  • Miller, David, ed. The Illustrated Directory of Modern American Weapons. London: Salamander Books, 2002, p. 74-79, Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) F-15 Eagle/Strike Eagle.
  • Munro, Bob and Chant, Christopher. Jane's Combat Aircraft. Glasgow: Harper Collins Publishers, 1995, p. 154-155, McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle.
  • Rendall, David. Jane's Aircraft Recognition Guide, 2nd ed. London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1999, p. 33, Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) F-15 Eagle.
  • Spick, Mike. Brassey's Modern Fighters: The Ultimate Guide to In-Flight Tactics, Technology, Weapons, and Equipment. Washington, DC: Brassey's, 2000, p. 98-103, Boeing F-15C Eagle.
  • Taylor, Michael. Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1996/1997. London: Brassey's, 1996, p. 57, 143-144, Mitsubishi F-15J and F-15DJ, McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle.
  • Taylor, Michael J. H. Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1999/2000. London: Brassey's, 1999, p. 42, 111-112, Mitsubishi F-15J and F-15DJ, Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) F-15 Eagle.
  • US Air Force F-15 Fact Sheet
  • Wilson, Jim. Combat: The Great American Warplane. NY: Hearst Books, 2001, p. 66-67, F-15 Eagle.

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