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F-15 In Combat
An F-15C from the Alaskan Air Command goes into a vertical climb sometime during the mid 1980's. It is loaded with the standard missile load of the time: Four AIM-7F Sparrow, and four AIM-9L Sidewinders as well as the 20m gun. A 600-gallon external tank is carried on the centerline.
Throughout its thirty year career, the F-15 Eagle has an unprecedented record of being undefeated in air-to-air combat. According to most sources, the Eagle's Kill Talley stands at around 105 with no losses. The first official kill goes to the Israel Air Force. In June 1979, an IAF F-15 shot down a Syrian MiG-21 Fishbed using an AIM-9. In January 19991, the USAF would get its first kill when an F-15C from the 33rd TFW scored against an Iraqi MiG-29 Fulcrum with an AIM-7 during the first night of Operation Desert Storm. The F-15 victory scoreboard for the USAF includes:
2 MiG-21 Fishbeds 8 MiG-23 Floggers 2 MiG-25 Foxbats 9 MiG-29 Fulcrums (includes one maneuver kill) 5 SU-17/20/22 Fitters 2 SU-25 Frogfoots 6 Mirage F1s 1 IL-76 Candid 1 Mi MiL-8 Hip (shared credit between two F-15C pilots) 1 Mi MiL-24 Hind 1 Hughes 500 Helicopter (killed by an F-15E using 2,000 lb GBU-24) 1 Pilatus PC-9 (maneuver kill)
Interestingly, USAF pilots have never scored a gun kill. All victory credits go to the AIM-9M (eight kills), AIM-7M twenty-five kills), and AIM-120 (four kills). So far the only country flying the F-15 that has utilized the 20mm gun in air-to-air combat is Israel. The aggressive IAF Eagle drivers reportedly have gotten up close and personal in their gun fights. They will bring their F-15 in as close as possible to a MiG, then use the 20mm gun in a scalpel-like manner to dissect their target and let it tumble to the ground. Most reports give the IAF credit with at least 50 confirmed air-to-air kills with their fleet, making the Israel Air Force the highest scoring MiG killers in the Eagle community. In addition to the USAF and the IAF/IDF, the only other country to score kills with the F-15 is Saudi Arabia. In July 1984, while tensions were extremely high with Iran, two RSAF Eagles, one F-15C and one F-15D, were on a training sortie when they were vectored in to engage two Iranian F-4Es that were threatening friendly shipping in the Persian Gulf. In this highly controversial incident, the F-15D pilot, said to be a USAF Captain, launched an AIM-7F that destroyed one Phantom. Another AIM-7 launched from the F-15C damaged the second F-4. Both the F-4 Phantom and the F-15 Eagle are warplanes manufactured by McDonnell Douglas. In fact, all four of the fighters that were involved in this fight came off the same assembly line less than ten years apart. This was the first time in history that fighters built by the same manufacturer battled each other in the air. During Desert Storm, another RSAF F-15C pilot from No.13 Squadron scored a double kill against two Iraqi Mirage F.1 fighter-bombers using two AIM-9L Sidewinders. The USAF would once again score kills with the F-15 during Operation Allied Force in 1999. F- 15Cs from the 493rd EFS (Expeditionary Fighter Squadron) would get credit for four MiG-29 Fulcrums. Two F-15C pilots scored a single MiG kill apiece while a third scored a double kill. All kills were with the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile. The pilot that scored the double kill, a first in USAF history, employed two AIM-120s simultaneously against a pair of MiG-29s. F-15C, tail number 84-0014, scored an Iraqi Su-22 kill during Desert Storm, making this particular F-15 the first fighter jet in the USAF to score kills in two separate conflicts. One of the Eagle drivers, Lt. Col. Caesar Rodriguez who scored a MiG-29 kill during the war in Kosovo, was also a Desert Storm veteran. Then a Captain, Rodriguez was the pilot who successfully maneuvered a MiG-29 into the ground and killed a MiG-23 with an AIM-7 missile on 19 and 27 January, 1991, respectively.
One of the few F-15Es (87-0190) assigned to the testing facility at Edwards AFB, California. The aircraft is loaded with inert AIM-9M Sidewinders, and MK-82 500 lb bombs. In Desert Storm, the F-15E would play an invaluable part in the hunt for Iraqi Scud sites, as well as an interdiction fighter targeting airfields and other high value targets.
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