The F-15EX, the Air Force’s newest fighter, touched down at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., March 11., 2021.
The aircraft will be the first Air Force aircraft to be tested and fielded from beginning to end, through combined developmental and operational tests.
“It’s a special day for the base and our mission,” said Brig. Gen. Scott Cain, 96th Test Wing commander. “We’re very proud to be part of the next evolution of this historic aircraft. I look forward to seeing this unique test collaboration prepare the F-15EX for the warfighter.”
The aircraft bears its unit insignia. EX1 marked with “ET” from the 96th TW’s, 40th Flight Test Squadron. The EX2, arriving in April, will display the “OT” tail flash to represent the 53rd Wing’s 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron.
To support the combined test effort, both test squadron commanders ferried in the EX-1 together.
“Choosing to have the two commanders ferry the jet down was a concerted effort to reinforce the cooperation between DT and OT organizations and integration efforts,” said Lt. Col. Jacob Lindaman, 85th TES commander.
The aim of integrated testing is to ensure the EX is delivered to the warfighter as soon as possible, while ensuring the aircraft meets test objectives. This combination of Eglin’s testers allows the teams to identify any system issues early on, so they can be addressed before the F-15EX’s increased production and delivery to the squadrons.
The Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force here will manage test planning and oversee all the groundwork for the EX’s test program.
“Combining these test capabilities on day one of flight test helps ensure F-15EX is ready to execute on air tasking order day one. We’re confident that along with our OFP CTF partners running test management, we will provide that capability faster to the warfighter than ever before,” said Lt. Col. Richard Turner, 40th FLTS commander, who flew the new EX to Eglin.
While the new fighter can be operated by a single pilot, it is a two-seat aircraft with an increased payload capacity, electronic flight controls, advanced cockpit and mission systems and software capabilities.
Before testing and evaluation begins, aircrews will familiarize themselves with the aircraft through local airspace flights.