United States welcomes new F-15EX Eagle II jets in Florida

The United States Air Force has enhanced its aerial capabilities with the arrival of two F-15EX Eagle II jets, designated EX3 and EX4, at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. These new aircraft, which arrived on December 20, 2023, represent the latest additions to the USAF fleet.

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United States welcomes new F 15EX Eagle II jets in Florida 925 002 EX3 and EX4 feature significant advancements, including a cockpit pressure monitoring, an alert system and a new ultra-high frequency antenna designed for satellite communications.  (Picture source: Eglin Air Force Base)

EX3 and EX4, the Air Force's most recent acquisitions, feature significant advancements, including a cockpit pressure monitoring and alert system, as well as a new ultra-high frequency antenna designed for satellite communications. These aircraft are under the responsibility of the 40th Flight Test Squadron and the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron, tasked with conducting thorough testing on these advanced jets.

With the introduction of EX3 and EX4, Eglin Air Force Base now houses four F-15EX jets. These newer jets are owned by the 96th Test Wing (EX3) and 53rd Wing (EX4), which also possess the first two F-15EX fighters.

Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Wee, commander of the Combined Operational Flight Test Program, expressed confidence in the F-15EX, highlighting its combat readiness and potential to revolutionize the USAF's inventory. The arrival of EX3 and EX4, with their unique features such as cockpit pressure monitoring and satellite communication systems, as well as a redesigned forward fuselage, marks a significant step in the evolution of the F-15EX series.

These improvements are not limited to communication and safety features; they extend to the overall operational capabilities of the aircraft, accelerating the development of the F-15EX platform and other combat aircraft. Brigadier General Jeffrey Geraghty, commander of the 96th Test Wing, emphasized the integrated approach that combines developmental and operational testing to speed up the delivery of these advanced capabilities to the warfighter.

EX3 and EX4 are specific designations given to two F-15EX Eagle II fighter jets. These two aircraft represent the latest iteration of the renowned F-15 model but with significant improvements and modernized features compared to their predecessors. The F-15EX as a whole is an evolution of the earlier models in the F-15 series, known for its versatility and superior aerial combat performance.

EX3 and EX4 share several common features that distinguish them from earlier versions. They are equipped with a cockpit pressure monitoring and alert system, a critical feature for safety. Additionally, they feature an ultra-high frequency antenna for satellite communications, expanding their communication and connectivity capabilities in various combat scenarios.

These aircraft are also characterized by structural modifications, including a redesigned forward fuselage, specifically tailored to meet the specific needs of the United States Air Force. This structural adaptation aims not only to improve the aerodynamics of the aircraft but also to optimize the integration of advanced systems and weaponry.

Although EX3 and EX4 share these advanced features, there may be minor differences in their specific configurations or the roles they are intended to play within the Air Force. However, these differences are generally subtle and largely determined by the requirements of the specific squadrons to which they are assigned. For example, an aircraft may be equipped or configured differently for specific test missions, depending on the objectives of the test or evaluation squadron.

The F-15EX program's achievements in 2023 include participation in Northern Edge 2023 in Alaska, advanced weapons integration missions, and successful air-to-ground weapons deployment at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, during Combat Hammer. These accomplishments have been praised by the Operational Test and Evaluation Director, affirming the effectiveness, suitability, and survivability of the F-15EX.

Looking forward, the test squadrons at Eglin are scheduled to receive two more F-15EX jets.