After These First Kills, Eagle Drivers Racked Up a 104-0 Score
The 60’s were a decade of innovation, from the first video game console, computer mouse, and cool cars like the Datsun 240Z! But the year 1967 birthed the concept of a new American fighter, one that would compete against the Fairchild Hiller and North American Rockwell. The Vietnam War had presented a platform for the F-4 Phantom to prove itself, but lessons had been learned and advancements were required to enter the next phase of air-to-air combat. Christmas came early on 23 December 1969 as McDonnell Douglas earned the Air Force’s blessing for a new fighter contract, officially starting the legacy of the “Eagle.”
The Specs of the F-15
Two Pratt & Whitney F100 (or) two General Electric F110 turbofan engines offer 29,000 pounds of thrust class (with afterburning) into an airframe that’s only 63.8 feet long and 42.8 feet wide. The maximum gross takeoff weight of 81,000 pounds includes an armament of cannons, precision guided munitions, and medium/short-range missiles which vary based on specific fighter categories. For the F-15A/B/C/D air-to-air category, the plane is fitted with a 20mm cannon, AIM-120 (AMRAAM) missiles, AIM-9 (Sidewinder) missiles, and AIM-7 (Sparrow) missiles. With a top speed of 1,875 miles per hour, 2,400 mile range, and a maximum service ceiling of 65,000 feet, the F-15 is designed to be utilized in a variety of missions.
Proving Ground for the F-15
The year is 1979. The Cold War is running rampant, and the Soviets are doing their best to arm the Syrians and Egyptians with the best air defense available. During this period, the answer was the proven Soviet-built MiG-21. The Israeli government turned to the West, and the United States delivered 25 F-15s on 27 June 1979. With virtually no prior combat experience, the F-15s had yet to make a name for themselves Little did they know, the opportunity would come only minutes later.
That same afternoon, four Syrian MiG-21s were detected rapidly approaching Israeli airspace. Quickly scrambling to meet the challenge were four Israeli Air Force F-15s. Brigadier General Moshe Melnik was one of the four Eagle drivers who took to the skies that afternoon. Utilizing the Python 3 missile (which was specifically designed for the Israeli F-15s), Moshe and his fellow airmen were able to successfully defeat the enemy in a matter of 30 seconds.
To the Video
Check out this short video from the Smithsonian with actual footage from Brig. Gen. Moshe Melnik’s F-15!
Today there are currently 670 F-15s protecting the skies from bases along the USA, Europe, and Asia. The “Eagle” remains a key component to air superiority. Heck, it even shot down a satellite! We look forward to seeing it continue to live out its incredible legacy as the F-15 continues in production, with new jets to be delivered soon.