F-15 C/D/E Eagle

The McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F-15 Eagle is a twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. It is considered among the most successful modern fighters with over 100 aerial combat victories with no losses in dogfights. Following reviews of proposals, the United States Air Force selected McDonnell Douglas' design in 1967 to meet the service's need for a dedicated air superiority fighter. The Eagle first flew in July 1972, and entered service in 1976. The F-15 is expected to be in service with the U.S. Air Force until 2025.

Since the 1970s, the Eagle has also been exported to Israel, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. Despite originally being envisaged as a pure air superiority aircraft, the design proved flexible enough that an all-weather strike derivative, the F-15E Strike Eagle, was later developed, and entered service in 1989.

The largest operator of the F-15 is the United States Air Force. The first Eagle (F-15B) was delivered 14 November 1974. In January 1976, the first Eagle destined for a combat squadron, the 555th TFS, was delivered. These initial aircraft carried the Hughes Aircraft (now Raytheon) APG-63 radar.The first F-15 kill was scored by IAF ace Moshe Melnik in 1979. In 1979–81, during Israeli raids against Palestinian factions based in Lebanon, F-15As downed 13 Syrian MiG-21 "Fishbeds" and two Syrian MiG-25 "Foxbats", the latter being the aircraft the F-15 was designed to kill. Israeli F-15As and Bs participated as escorts in Operation Opera and served during the 1982 Lebanon War. During the latter, Israeli F-15s shot down 40 Syrian jet fighters (23 MiG-21 "Fishbeds" and 17 MiG-23 "Floggers") and one Syrian SA.342L Gazelle helicopter. Later on, in 1985, IAF Eagles, in Operation Wooden Leg, bombed the PLO headquarters in Tunisia. This was one of the few times air superiority F-15s (A/B/C/D models) were used in tactical strike missions. Royal Saudi Air Force F-15C pilots shot down two F-4E Phantom IIs flown by the Iranian Air Force in a skirmish in June 1984, and shot down two Iraqi Mirage F1s during the Gulf War.

An earlier variant of the Indian Sukhoi Su-30MKI, the Su-30MK, took part in war games with the United States Air Force (USAF) during Cope-India 04, where USAF F-15 Eagles were pitted against Indian Air Force (IAF) Su-30MKs, Mirage 2000s, MiG-29s and elderly MiG-21. The results have been widely publicized, with the Indians winning "90% of the mock combat missions".However, the USAF aircraft were handicapped by not being allowed to use their long-range radars, and there has been speculation that this was intended to demonstrate to the US Congress the need to not cancel further production of the next-generation F-22 Raptor, which was an issue tabled at the congress at that time. While participating in the Red Flag advanced combat training exercises in the US in 2008, the F-15E, F-16C, and F-22 deployed by the USAF maintained dominance over the Indian SU-30s.

The F-15 in all air forces had an air-to-air combined record of 104 kills to 0 losses in air combat as of February 2008. To date, no air superiority versions of the F-15 (A/B/C/D models) have ever been shot down by enemy forces. Over half of F-15 kills were achieved by Israeli Air Force pilots.

The F-15C/D model is being supplanted in U.S. service by the F-22 Raptor. The F-15E, however, will remain in service for years to come because of their different air-to-ground role and the lower number of hours on their airframes. The USAF will upgrade 178 F-15Cs with the AN/APG-63(V)3 AESA radar,and upgrade other F-15s with the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System.The Air Force will keep 178 F-15Cs as well as the 224 F-15Es in service beyond 2025.

On 13 October 2009, the last F-15A, an Oregon National Guard aircraft, was retired marking the end of service for the earlier A/B models in the United States.

2024 (c)