HomeNewsArticle Display

F-15 Eagles still flying high at 30

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFPN) -- The F-15 Eagle turned 30 years old July 27, but those who fly it or maintain it say this bird is as spry as ever.

Considering the numbers that really count, the aircraft is mission perfect. It currently boasts a combat record of 104 kills without a loss, a score that includes Israeli and Saudi Arabian air force F-15s.

"It's holding up very well for its 30 years," said Master Sgt. Jeroy Stelly, a section chief for the 2nd Fighter Squadron's crew chiefs here. "That has a lot to do with the people who work on them."

Pilots here are not surprised the Eagle is still the world's premier air superiority fighter, even after three decades of service.

Is the aircraft ready for pasture?

"Not at all," said Lt. Col. Matt Donovan, 95th Fighter Squadron commander, "It's just a superb fighting airplane."

The colonel said the F-15 is programmed to continue flying through at least 2015.

Capt. Dwight Minnick, a 1st Fighter Squadron maintenance officer, agreed with Stelly that the Eagle is weathering the years far beyond expectations.

"The aircraft was designed with a life span of approximately 5,000 hours, and many of our aircraft are well over the 5,000-hour mark, but you wouldn't know it based upon how well these jets are flying," Minnick said.

"Airframes tend to show more stress fatigue over time in the form of cracks and stuff, but overall they can withstand a lot," said Master Sgt. Moody Summerell, a flight chief assistant for the 95th FS crew chiefs. "I believe the corrosion prevention and overall dedicated maintenance performed now and in the past are the prime reasons the F-15 has been around so long."

Despite the aircraft's high hours, Donovan said, "I'm as confident flying in one today as I was 19 years ago when I started flying them. A lot of that is due to our maintainers."

Donovan was proud to point out his own maintainers have notched the world's highest F-15 mission capable rates.

"That's due in no small part to the 19- and 20-year-old heroes of mine who come in and take care of these airplanes, tap the pilots on the shoulders and say, 'Take care of it,'" he said.

Donovan also credits strong training programs for much of the Eagle's success.

"I think another real key is the superior training and capabilities of the pilots who fly it," he said.

The colonel said he has seen U.S. Air Force F-15 pilots demonstrate their high-quality training during exercises by consistently winning dissimilar air engagements against foreign, highly matched "opponent" pilots and aircraft, such as front-line Russian-built fighters. The same success resulted when U.S. Air Force pilots swapped aircraft with their adversaries.

With the Eagle notching 30 years of service, it is obvious around Tyndall that its own F-15s are as old or older than most of the students here training to fly it.

"The Eagle is actually about five years older than I am, but that doesn't change at all the confidence that I have in its capabilities," said 1st Lt. Dave Martinez, a Tyndall F-15 Basic, or B-course student as they are commonly known. "It has been tested in combat countless times and every time has emerged as the winner. Not one Eagle has been lost in combat in three decades. If that isn't proof enough of its capabilities, then I don't know what is."

Three decades old or not, the F-15 inspires as much awe as ever in those who see it, maintain it or fly it for the first time.

"The Eagle isn't just impressive, it's imposing," said B-course student 1st Lt. Tony Bierenkoven. "Its sheer size is the first thing a person will notice when (he or she gets) up close. A plane that large being able to maneuver like it does speaks for itself." (Courtesy of Air Education and Training Command News Service)

Engage

Facebook Twitter
Thousands of #Airmen have found support through our Exceptional Family Member Program, which allows them to proceed… https://t.co/OVSsRLN6F7
Hear @GenDaveGoldfein expound on what it takes to modernize #AirForce squadrons for future missions. https://t.co/a6F0tRfMxU
If you aren't taking advantage of #FollowFriday by following @Creech_AFB you are missing out on the famed "Hunters"… https://t.co/omTO945zAf
May we never forget, National #POWMIA Recognition Day. https://t.co/Oyu82RbIRO
RT @HQ_AFMC: Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the @usairforce Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, was one of the featured speake…
#ICYMI, Ms. Brie Larson, star of the upcoming feature film "Captain Marvel," joined #Airmen from across the NCR and… https://t.co/6lxYK3l85A
“Our dogs are definitely not pets; they are #MilitaryWorkingDogs – assets to the #USAF…The trust these teams have i… https://t.co/PVPq9Up5iN
#USAF optometry clinics keep #Airmen's eyes healthy so they can keep their sights set on the mission.… https://t.co/siyO4osHjr
First female chaplain from the #171ARW completes Leadership Development Institute training, develops the first… https://t.co/oFFpYZf9Mg
.@USAFReserve #Airmen @45thSpaceWing put their lives on temporary hold to respond to the aftermath of… https://t.co/m0yaqqUEaV
#ICYMI, @HAFB took a different approach to #cosplay at #FanX18 by teaming up with the Utah Engineers Council to pre… https://t.co/RChVGaP8rN
RT @USAFHealth: #TBT Flight Nurse Captain Shirley A. Armstrong hands a cup of fruit juice to a patient in a C-141 Starlifter during a medic…
Rapid global mobility is the mantra of the #816EAS and #ICYMI #Airmen continued to live it by shuttling cargo and l… https://t.co/5VI4R4wFQa
.@AETCommand officials announced the second iteration of Pilot Training Next https://t.co/qB5YwQSLip
RT @SecAFOfficial: The #AirForce We Need, begins with resilient and ready #Airmen. #ASC18 #CMSAF https://t.co/ogfN6Xtn2V https://t.co/kyCJ…
We're going #LIVE as #CMSAF Wright speaks at #ASC18. Watch on our Facebook page at 10:45 a.m. EDT:… https://t.co/LIc3O6CdiW
Our own @AstroHague will launch into #Space in less than a month! https://t.co/RaQsXp14NP
In order to support the NDS, the Air Force We Need will require a restructure of our expeditionary force structure.… https://t.co/O63bDWHAbC