F-15 Eagle

The F-15’s birth can ultimately be traced back to the Vietnam War. During the War, U.S Navy and Air Force used dozens of types of aircraft, engendering a logistical and maintenance disaster. The U.S Secretary of Defence at the time was McNamara, who was a sizeable fan of standardising armaments, asked the Air Force to consider purchasing a tactical fighter which could supersede multiple types of subsisting aircraft, such as the A-7, F-100, F-105 and F-4.

In April 1965, the Fighter-Experimental (F-X for short) project commenced. Eight aviation companies submitted a total of around 800 designs, most designs featured variable-sweep wings(wings that could swing forward and rearward), weighed over 27,000 kg, and a top speed of Mach 2.7. The F-X was to have both air combat and ground attack facilities. These design designations sounded awfully homogeneous to the subsisting F-111 which was already going through initial production.

Throughout the 1960s, air combat over Vietnam worried U.S Air Force planners and analysts. In the 1960s it was believed that guided missiles would make close-range dogfights obsolete, and thus, American fighter jets were typically cumbersomely hefty, expeditious and had bad agility and acceleration. Practical reasons as well as the trepidation of amicable fire coerced F-4 Phantoms into close range dogfights against Vietnamese MiG-17s, and the frugal, old but nimble MiGs won an astronomically immense portion of dogfights. Concurrently, the U.S Navy dropped out of the F-111 project (the Air Force kept their F-111, it worked out fine as a bomber), claiming that a 60,000-pound aircraft should not pretend to be a fighter. The F-X project is authoritatively mandated to go back to the roots, and be something to represent a classic fighter aircraft.

In 1967 the Soviet Coalescence revealed their incipient MiG-25. The MiG-25 was an interceptor and not a fighter, to withstand high speed at high altitude, it had sizeable wings and was made from steel rather than aluminium. The MiG-25’s was just like the American F-4 Phantom, it was intended to be an interceptor shooting down bomber, not a dogfighter. Albeit the MiG-25 looked akin to a fantastic fighter on the outside and that scared the Americans. In fear, the U.S decided to stop mucking around. Air Force Chief of Staff and various committees acceded on designing a pristine air-combat fighter with the sole mission to ensure America’s aerial supremacy. The phrase thrown around the Air Force was ‘not a pound for air to ground’, which betokens not a single piece of equipment on the F-15 is intended for ground attack.(Albeit nobody is obviating you from carrying bombs in lieu of missiles on a F-15.) Incipient requisites were rolled out by the Air Force, asking for the F-X to have a weight of 40,000 pounds, a lower max speed of Mach 2.5 (to preserve weight), low wing loading and a thrust-to-weight ratio higher than 1. To those who don’t genuinely understand wing loading and thrust-to-weight ratio, fixate here. Wing loading is the weight of the plane divided by the area of the wing, hence a lightweight plane with astronomically immense wings will have a lower wing loading. Lower wing loading results in shorter take-offs and landings, better legerity and less speed loss while turning, and a more expeditious rate of climb. Thrust to weight ratio is (conspicuously) the weight of the plane divided by the pushing force engendered by the plane’s engines. A thrust to weight ratio higher than 1 sanctions a plane such as the F-15 to expedite while flying vertically upwards. High thrust to weight withal provides better expedition and more expeditious vertical turns, great for a dogfight.

Fairchild Republic, North American Rockwell, and McDonnell Douglas applied for the definition phase of the F-X project in December 1968. The companies submitted technical proposals by June 1969. The design submitted by Fairchild Republic features engines mounted unto the wings, remotely reminiscent of the SR-71 Blackbird. On 23 December 1969 the McDonnell Douglas design was culled as the triumpher by the Air Force. The first F-15A flight was made on 27 July 1972 with the first flight of the two-seat F-15B following in July 1973, and the type was christened the ‘Eagle’. The F-15 went straight to mass production. The F-15’s rudimental layout is pretty simple. The slab-shaped fuselage/body is made from aluminium and plastic composite. Mounted contiguous are the F100 engines victualed by rectangular air intakes on each side of the cockpit. Stability and control is provided by two vertical fins and two all moving horizontal tailfins. The wings mounted on the upper fuselage is swept back at 45 degrees and lastly the pilot sits beneath a single piece canopy offering great overtness.

The Pratt and Whitney F-100 engines powering F-15s had an onerous beginning. Intended to be a standardised engine utilised in both Air Force F-15s and Navy F-14s, the F100 was so deplorable the Navy preferred to utilise older TF-30 engines for its first batch of F-14s. The engine would often stall and spew fire from both ends, in case you don’t know, jet engines are supposed to only spew fire from the back. Amendments to the F100 led to the F100-PW-200, which was a lot less problematic and additionally powered F-16s. Each F100-PW-200 engine engenders 107 kilonewtons of thrust. Standard weapons load for the Eagle was four AIM-9 short ranged missiles and four AIM-7 long range missiles (later superseded by the AIM-120). The four more sizeably voluminous missiles are carried within a recess or indentation on the bottom of the fuselage, and the four AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles are carried on two immensely colossal wing pylons, one missile on the inside and one missile on the outside of each pylon. Each pylon can additionally carry a drop tank. A M61 20mm cannon mounted on the right side of the wing root (where the wing met the body) carried 900 rounds of ammo, later reduced to 500 rounds to make room for electronics.

About a dozen variants/models of the F-15 have been engendered since the 70s. The rudimental F-15A and two-seater F-15B training aircraft flew in 1972, a total of 384 A and 61 B variant Eagles were engendered. The single-seat F-15C and two-seat F-15D variants entered engenderment in 1978 in replication to criticisms. The incipient C and D variants had incipient wings hold 950 kg of extra fuel as well as reinforced landing gear and framing. The radar was given an incipient signal processing system and fire control computers, issues with the F100 engines were largely resolved with the C and D. 482 F-15Cs and 93 F-15Ds were engendered in America and 210 more in Japan. In 1983, the F-15MSIP further ameliorated C and D variant Eagles by sanctioning them to carrying six AIM-120 missiles, four on the fuselage in lieu of the old AIM-7s and two more on the inner side of the wing pylons. Cost of F-15s are $41.3 million for the F-15A/B, $44 million for the F-15C/D, $48 million for the F-15E and $98 million for the ultimate F-15SA. All cost are in USD, adjusted for inflation.

The Air Force only asked for an Air-preponderation fighter in 1965, but McDonnell Douglas has been quietly working on a ground attack variant of the Eagle. In 1981 the U.S Air Force commenced probing for a potential supersession for the F-111, McDonnell responded with the F-15E Strike Eagle. The F-15E integrates a second seat to the cockpit so a Weapons operator can reduce workload and use air-to-ground weapons efficaciously. Two fuel tanks were integrated to the sides of F-15Es just beneath their wings, integrating 2,500 kg of fuel, each fuel tank has six mounting pylons for weapons arranged in two rows of three. Unlike the older F-111s, the F-15 plenarily retains air combat faculties(albeit it’s less limber than a F-15C) and can bulwark itself pretty well. The F-15E’s second seat and adscititious fuel/weapon storage additionally magnetised customers who request variants of the Strike Eagle for themselves. Singapore obtained the F-15SG, Saudi Arabia the F-15SA, Israel the F-15I and Korea the F-15K.  The F-15’s reputation skyrocketed during the aperture salvo of the Persian Gulf War. U.S F-15s shot down 27-36 Iraqi aircraft for no losses. The Eagle’s AIM-7 missiles availed by Early warning and electronic warfare planes crushed all Iraqi oppositions. Early warning planes such as the E-2 Hawkeye and the more immensely colossal E-3 Sentry spotted targets from more than 300km away and directed F-15s to targets, like the Israelis, most F-15s kills were scored from 20-25 miles away. F-15s claimed six more kills over Kosovo. By 2008, F-15 Eagles from sundry countries have shot down 102 aircraft without suffering a single air-to-air loss. (Six to ten Eagles were disoriented to ground predicated missiles and guns) This feat is unparalleled by any other combat aircraft in history. Fun fact, the F-15 is the only aircraft to have ever shot down a satellite utilising an ASM-135 missile, later satellite killers would be carried aboard warships.

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