The US Air Force (USAF) is conducting the initial operational test and evaluation (OT&E) mission for its newest fighter aircraft F-15EX Eagle ll.

The mission was carried out along with F-15Cs and F-15Es at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB) from 18-25 October.

Currently, there are two F-15EXs with the USAF. The service officially accepted the delivery of the first F-15EX fighter jet at Florida’s Eglin AFB in March this year.

It received the second F-15EX next-generation fighter in April.

According to the USAF, the platform will join the fighter jets F-35 Lightning II, A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-16 Fighting Falcon, alongside a sixth-generation fighter programme as part of the ‘four-plus-one’ concept aimed at streamlining the fleet.

Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center (AFOTEC) F-15 tester lieutenant colonel Kenneth Juhl said: “We’ve never done full, large-scale operational tests with the F-15EX, because it’s only been in the US Air Force’s hands for six months.

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“The fact that we’re going this fast in operational test is definitely owing to the chief of staff of the airforce’s accelerate change or lose mentality.”

The initial OT&E of the F-15EX is being led by AFOTEC Detachment 6, with units from Eglin and Nellis AFBs. It is also supported by the Oregon and Florida National Guard and other industry contractors.

Following the tests at Nellis AFB, the aircraft will return to Eglin AFB for other developmental tests, following which F-15EX will take part in exercises such as Red Flag-Nellis.

Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force F-15EX test project manager Colton Myers said: “The main focus here is to provide the initial push for operational tests and evaluation to really evaluate the platform from an end-to-end perspective with the addition of a robust threat environment that we have here at Nellis.

“That way, when we write our initial test reports, we’re giving an accurate look to the combat airforce and the guard as to what the platform is capable of when it initially fields.”

The F-15EX aircraft is developed by Boeing for the USAF. It is the latest iteration of the F-15 Eagle Mission Design Series and an upgraded version of the F-15 fourth-generation fighter jet.