March 28, 1983: F-15 Flew First of 27 Test Flights

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  • Air Force Flight Test Center

The director of the F-15 Combined Test Force, Lt Col John M. Hoffman, flew the first of 27 high-AOA test flights on an F-15C with the test nose boom removed. This series proved that troublesome flight anomalies that had appeared on the F-15C had been caused by the presence of the nose boom, and not by its conformal fuel tanks. This in turn removed the threat of severe restrictions being placed on the flight envelope of operational F-15C/Ds.  

McDonnell Aircraft formalized the concept for the F-15 in 1967 when the company was selected to enter the second phase of the U.S Air Force's FX competition. Competing against Fairchild Hiller and North American Rockwell, McDonnell used lessons learned during the Vietnam War on the changing nature of jet age air-to-air combat, given that the F-4 Phantom II was earning its reputation as a formidable fighter. On Dec. 23, 1969, after more than two years of intensive testing and evaluation, the Air Force awarded McDonnell Douglas the F-15 Advanced Tactical Fighter contract. The McDonnell Douglas team had placed first among the three competitors in all phases of the competition and had the lowest contract price.  The F-15 is a twin-engine, high-performance, all-weather air superiority fighter known for its incredible acceleration and maneuverability. With a top speed in excess of Mach 2.5 it was the first U.S. fighter with enough thrust to accelerate vertically. The F-15 carries a large complement of missiles — including AIM-9 Sidewinders and AIM-7 Sparrows; the Boeing-built Small Diameter Bomb I, Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and Laser JDAM weapons; and an internal 20 mm Gatling gun — all vital for modern engagements.  On June 26, 1972, James S. McDonnell, founder of McDonnell Aircraft, christened the F-15 "Eagle." Test pilot Irv Burrows took the first F-15 Eagle to the air on July 27, 1972, at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Six months later, the Air Force approved the Eagle for full-rate production.

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