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      12-16-2023, 03:07 PM   #2245
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Cool photo of a Yak-3U replica (powered by U.S. Pratt & Whitney engine).

The Yak-3 was a mainstay in the Soviet Air Force in the Second World War.
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      12-16-2023, 03:40 PM   #2246
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Originally Posted by Llarry View Post
At least four of the A-4Ns will be based in Canada to provide aggressor services.
Good article here: https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zon...anced-skyhawks
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      12-17-2023, 02:43 AM   #2247
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An interesting photo of an Airbus A340 leaving colorful contrails.
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      12-17-2023, 06:23 AM   #2248
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In the news today: Remembering Bob Pardo. An extraordinary airman and hero of the Vietnam war.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pardo%27s_Push


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      12-17-2023, 10:30 AM   #2249
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Was in process of posting that. True act of service before self.
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      12-17-2023, 11:40 AM   #2250
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And of course, we can't forget that on this date in 1903, aviation history was made.


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      12-17-2023, 12:52 PM   #2251
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lady Jane View Post
And of course, we can't forget that on this date in 1903, aviation history was made.
Best post in this entire thread, Lady Jane! 120 years. The first time I've ever seen a photo of the Wright's engine.
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      12-17-2023, 02:17 PM   #2252
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The Indian Air Force began the search for a MiG-21 successor in the 1980s. It has been a long journey, but the Tejas fighter first flew in 2001 and the Mark 1 version is operational in two squadrons. Now the improved Mark 1A is almost ready for service, while a further improved Mark 2 is in development.

The Tejas is the smallest/lightest advanced high-performance fighter extant. While the Indians aimed to use a locally developed powerplant, in the end they selected the General Electric F404 as used by the new USAF T-7A trainer and the SAAB Gripen fighter (and in pairs by early F-18 Hornets). The Mark 2 is scheduled to use the more powerful GE F414 as used by the F-18 Super Hornet.

The original intent was also to develop a carrier-capable variant for the Indian Navy; the Navy has now decided to buy a twin-engine fighter for that application. The delta wing layout is also not ideal for the demanding low-speed characteristics desirable in a carrier aircraft.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HAL_Tejas
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      12-17-2023, 04:08 PM   #2253
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An interesting photo of an Airbus A340 leaving colorful contrails.
OH NOOOOOOO.........

Chemtrails!!!!!
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      12-17-2023, 06:29 PM   #2254
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Originally Posted by Llarry View Post
Best post in this entire thread, Lady Jane! 120 years. The first time I've ever seen a photo of the Wright's engine.
More detailed info here:

https://www.holley.com/blog/post/dee...lyer_a_engine/
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      12-17-2023, 06:31 PM   #2255
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lady Jane View Post
And of course, we can't forget that on this date in 1903, aviation history was made...
Way back in the late 60's, I remember visiting Wright Brothers National Memorial while we were vacationing in Kitty Hawk NC where the first flight happened: https://www.nps.gov/articles/firstflight.htm
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      12-17-2023, 06:51 PM   #2256
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The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker (Model 717) has served the U.S. Air Force for well over 65 years and is still going strong, despite the KC-46A replacing it in some squadrons. Over 300 KC-135 tankers still serve and are likely to do so for a number of years to come.

The original KC-135A tanker originated from the same Boeing 367-80 prototype that the 707 passenger liner did, but was significantly different in many respects. The KC-135A entered service in mid-1957 with the Strategic Air Command (SAC) as a high priority project to replace older prop-powered tankers.

The Air Force placed many orders and accepted the last of 732 KC-135As in 1965. As the force grew and the Vietnam war heated up, SAC relaxed its iron grip on the tanker force and the KC-135A played an important part in the air war in Southeast Asia, enabling a wide variety of aircraft to extend their flying range and endurance.

The KC-135A was powered by an early model of the Pratt & Whitney J57 engine that used water/methanol injection for takeoffs when heavy, leading some to quip that the engine was used "when Man believed he could burn water." The water injection cooled and increased the density of the engine intake, allowing for more fuel burn and increased thrust. Without injection, the engine was rated for 10,000 pounds of thrust, with water bumped the thrust up to 13,000 pounds.

The Stratotanker had a crew of four: pilot, copilot, navigator and refueling boom operator, who lay prone in the rear during refueling and controlled the movement/operation of the refueling boom.

There were many variants of the C-135, but I'd like to stick to just the U.S. Air Force KC-135 tankers in this post.

One of the first tanker variants was a specialized tanker dedicated to refueling the Lockheed A-12/SR-71A Blackbird. This KC-135Q had a separate fuel system for Blackbird fuel and could be refueled in flight itself, allowing multiple tankers to consolidate fuel for the Blackbird.

The extra fuel tanks for KC-135s were under the floor of the main compartment, allowing cargo or passengers to be carried as well. There was a large cargo door on the front left to facilitate loading and unloading.

Despite the improved performance over the old prop tankers, it became obvious that the -135 was underpowered with its original J57s, and the Air Force searched for a solution. It was not until the 1980s that a limited number of KC-135As in service with the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard were reengined with turbofan engines removed from retiring 707s. The resulting TF33 turbofan gave 18,000 pounds of thrust, eliminated water injection and gave the resulting KC-135E tanker more reasonable performance.

But that left the USAF still searching for either a new tanker or an upgrade to the large number of active force KC-135As. After some fits and starts, a much larger CFM F108 turbofan was fitted to some 500 KC-135s starting in 1982. The KC-135R also had a large number of other improvements to go with its greater thrust engines of 22,500 pounds. The new engines gave the tanker much better overall performance, greater range and increased fuel offload capability and reduced the noise level on takeoff as well. The 54 remaining KC-135Qs were similarly upgraded and redesignated KC-135T.

The KC-135R remains the most numerous Air Force tanker today, but has undergone further upgrades. Under the Pacer-CRAG project (1999-2002), extensive updates were made to avionics and the navigator position was eliminated, reducing the crew to three. More recently, block 45 upgrades have given the KC-135R/T a state-of-the-art glass cockpit. See photos contrasting the KC-135A panel with that of a current KC-135R.

The KC-135Es have been retired and the KC-135 force is now all Rs and Ts. I'd estimate that the active Air Force currently has 140 KC-135R/T tankers, the Air Force Reserve has about 60 and the Air National Guard operates about 155. There are about 80 replacement KC-46A tankers in the force, so the KC-135 continues to carry the load and will do so for some years to come.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing...5_Stratotanker
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      12-18-2023, 06:01 AM   #2257
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While the vast majority of Boeing Model 717s (C-135s) bought by the U.S. Air Force were tankers, there were also a much smaller number of C-135s built as transports -- the first USAF jet transports. 15 C-135As served and then 30 improved C-135Bs with turbofan TF33 engines were purchased. These provided an interim long-range jet transport capability for several years until the Lockheed C-141 was introduced.

The C-135 Stratolifters were not ideal transports; for the transport of cargo, the load floor was very high and it was difficult to get cargo in and out. (See the photo of the cargo door above in the KC-135 post). Once the C-141 was introduced, the transport C-135s were used elsewhere. Some were converted into command posts/VIP aircraft or testbed aircraft, while others became the reconnaissance variants still used today. Note that even the VIP transports had few windows, reflecting the origin as a tanker.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C-135_Stratolifter
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      12-18-2023, 07:34 AM   #2258
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One final post in the Boeing Model 717 series: The non-US users of the KC-135:

-- The French Armee de l'air (air force) was the first export customer for the KC-135, buying a dozen as tanker/transports in the 1960s and designating them C-135F. In the 1980s, the remaining 11 aircraft were reengined with CFM turbofans and called C-135FR and 3 KC-135Rs were added to the force. The French retired the type by 2023, replacing them with Airbus A330 tanker/transports.

-- Turkey obtained 7 former USAF KC-135s in the 1990s and they are being upgraded to block 45 standard as KC-135R.

-- Singapore purchased four former USAF KC-135Rs in 1999. After twenty years of service, they were replaced with Airbus A330 tanker/transports.

-- Finally, Chile got three KC-135Es around 2010 and they remain in service.

While tankers are very useful and an excellent force multiplier, the cost to maintain these old aircraft has skyrocketed over the years, deterring others from pursuing this solution to aerial refueling needs.
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      12-19-2023, 05:07 AM   #2259
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The first aircraft to exceed the speed of 1,000 mph in level flight was the UK's Fairey Delta 2, which set a speed record of 1,132 mph (1,822 km/hr) in 1956. The Delta 2 was a purely experimental aircraft, with just two built.

The Delta 2 was the last aircraft built by Fairey, closing out decades of aviation design and production.

The second Delta 2 was rebuilt to test the wing planform for the Concorde supersonic airliner and was known as the BAC 221 (photo).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairey_Delta_2
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      12-19-2023, 09:04 AM   #2260
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Until the mid-1960s, U.S. Navy attack aircraft carriers had a squadron of prop-driven attack aircraft on board. The Douglas A-1 Skyraider was a mid-1940s design that was useful but had limited survivability in a modern combat environment. The Skyraider was overdue for replacement.

The replacement was the Grumman A-6 Intruder, a considerably larger twin-engine design with a crew of two (pilot and bombardier/navigator). The A-6 was not a particularly pretty airplane -- sort of tadpole-looking. But it was an impressive technical achievement for the time: Not one, but two radars -- one for search and one for tracking -- under its bulbous nose radome, plenty of fuel and thus plenty of range. Unlike the USAF's F-111 Aardvark of about the same era, the A-6 was not supersonic; the Navy was willing to trade off speed for increased range. It was also a heavy lifter, with five store stations that could carry a much greater bomb load than any other carrier plane.

The initial A-6A entered service in 1963 and suffered some teething problems with all the fancy electronics. Soon the A-6 was in combat in Southeast Asia with Navy and Marine attack squadrons.

The Marines were looking for a tactical electronic warfare (EW) aircraft and the result was a small number of EA-6A "Electric Intruders" with passive and active (jamming) EW capabilities.

Several other specialized variants followed during the Vietnam War. See the Wikipedia article for details of the A-6B and A-6C, modified from the A in small numbers.

Meanwhile Grumman was working on an improved version, the A-6E Intruder, with improved multi-mode radar and other avionics upgrades. The A-6E was introduced during the latter stages of the Vietnam War.

The Navy also wanted a modern EW aircraft and Grumman came up with a stretched version of the A-6 called the EA-6B Prowler. In place of the two-man crew, the EA-6B had four crew members to manage the complex EW systems. The Marines replaced their earlier EA-6As with the Prowler as well. Initially unarmed, the EA-6B could later fire radar-homing missiles.

Later in the career of the Intruder -- and given the new laser-guided bombs -- the A-6E was fitted with a small TRAM turret under the nose that contained forward-looking infrared and a laser to designate targets. The A-6E TRAM continued to be the all-weather long-range heavy lifter into the 1990s. But time finally caught up with the Intruder and they were all retired by 1997. At the time, there was considerable controversy within naval aviation that the loss of the A-6 meant the loss of long-range all-weather attack capability.

The EA-6B Prowler continued in service until 2015, when it was finally replaced in the Navy by the EA-18G Growler, a variant of the Super Hornet.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grumman_A-6_Intruder

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northr..._EA-6B_Prowler
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      12-19-2023, 09:25 AM   #2261
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Llarry View Post

The replacement was the Grumman A-6 Intruder,
One of my favorite war movie is Flight of the Intruder. It had some funny moments but a sad ending.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_of_the_Intruder
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      12-19-2023, 01:48 PM   #2262
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U.S. Navy attack aircraft and squadrons were designated VA, but the introduction of the A-6 led to a differentiation in some documents as VAL (light attack: A-4 Skyhawk and A-7 Corsair) and VAM (A-6 Intruder). (The heavy attack category {VAH} occupied by the A-3 Skywarrior and A-5 Vigilante was already phased out.)

The plot thickened when the light attack A-7 was replaced by the F/A-18 Hornet. The admiral who came up with that awkward designation later explained that what he intended was that the Hornet could be either an A-18 in the attack role or an F-18 in the fighter role. At the time, Congress was refusing to pay for enough expensive F-14 Tomcats to fully replace the F-4 Phantom in the VF squadrons. Therefore, the F/A-18 was meant to replace both the A-7 VAL aircraft AND the F-4 VF aircraft.

In the end, though, a reduction in the number of carrier air wings, along with increased buys of the F-14, meant that all Navy fighter squadrons flew the F-14. That meant that the F/A-18 really assumed the attack role and, by extension, that it should have been designated as A for attack.

Muddying the waters, the Marine Corps turned down flying the F-14 -- they did not want to spend their limited funds on such an expensive airplane, particularly since they were set on buying the AV-8A Harrier V/STOL attack plane at the time. The Marines wanted the F/A-18 Hornet to be both fighter and attack, just like their F-4 Phantoms had been. The last Marine pure fighter squadrons (VMF) had been F-8 Crusader squadrons years before. The F-4s and then the F/A-18 were therefore Marine Fighter Attack Squadrons (VMFAs).

The Navy initially followed the Marine Corps example, and the first Hornet squadrons were designated Fighter Attack Squadrons (VFA). But then considerable criticism of the Hornet arose: The Vought A-7 Corsair attack plane equipping the VAs had excellent range and endurance. The Hornet, with its powerful -- and fuel-guzzling -- afterburning turbofans, was widely derided in the fleet as having deficient range. The solution was a classic bureaucratic maneuver -- instead of "fighter attack" planes, the F/A-18 were declared to be "strike fighter" planes. The squadron designations stayed VFA. Thus, the Navy's F/A-18 Hornet and later Super Hornet squadrons were all Strike Fighter Squadrons (VFAs) and remain so to this day. The advent of the F/A-18E and F Super Hornets helped the range capability somewhat, but U.S. Navy carrier air did not have the reach that it once had.

The fleet could console itself that, despite the lack of range of the VFAs, at least the A-6s had excellent capability to reach far out and touch someone. But in the 1990s, that capability went away with the retirement of the A-6 medium attack aircraft, leaving U.S. Navy carriers lacking in the capability to conduct long-range attack missions. In a sense the carrier air wing became all fighters and the attack capability was compromised.

There are always work-arounds, of course, and aerial refueling has become ever more important as the years have gone by. In the 1950s, aerial refueling was developed but was still somewhat rare. By the 1960s it took on greater importance and the Middle East wars really emphasized refueling in air given the great distances from the carrier decks to Iraq or Afghanistan.

To complete the story, the Marine Corps bought three squadrons of UK Harriers and loved them. For some years, the Marine attack squadrons were those few AV-8A Harriers and A-4 Skyhawks. The Marines then replaced all of those with the improved AV-8B Harrier for an all-V/STOL attack force. More recently, the Marines have totally embraced V/STOL (or STOVL) with the F-35B and are on their way to an all fighter force themselves. The Navy is in the process of replacing a third or so of their Super Hornets with the F-35C carrier-suitable version of the F-35. It must be admitted that the F-35 has excellent attack capability, so in that sense one might conclude that the aircraft type "attack" is obsolete and in the modern era a "fighter" is a high-performance aircraft that can duel with other aircraft and/or attack surface targets with equal aplomb.
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      12-19-2023, 05:58 PM   #2263
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In the early 1950s, the term attack aircraft meant only one airplane in the U.S. Navy: The Douglas AD (later A-1) Skyraider. The AD had been designed during the mid-1940s and was the pinnacle of that era's attack capability. When tactical nuclear weapons came along in the early 1950s, the Skyraider was adapted to carry them, which seems odd now in light of the airplane's relatively low speed and therefore slow ability to avoid the blast of the bomb that it dropped. Nevertheless, on a carrier there were jet fighters and there was the AD.

Nuclear weapons were the thing of the time, despite the fact that the Korean War had been fought without them. But the military was sure that nuclear weapons were the key to a possible war with the USSR.

As technology allowed the nuclear bomb to be reduced in size, though, the concept of a jet-powered attack plane became feasible. The first jet light attack aircraft were fighters that had been modified for the mission. The F9F-8B (later AF-9J) was the familiar Grumman Cougar flown by the Blue Angels modified to carry a single bomb beneath one wing and given a small computer to calculate the trajectory when dropped. The bomb in question was the Mark 12, a relatively slim shape.

The F9F-8B did not have the ground clearance to carry the other bomb, the Mark 7. The Mark 7 was a fat implosion weapon with a 30.5-inch sphere of fissile material -- and a nose cone and tail to make it aerodynamic. The North American FJ-4B Fury had the clearance to carry the Mark 7 or the slimmer Mk 12.

These two modified fighters were soon joined by a purpose-designed nuclear bomber, the Douglas A4D (A-4) series of light attack airplanes. The A4D had tall landing gear to allow for ground clearance in order to carry the large Mk 7 bomb on the centerline. The A4D soon became the most numerous aircraft on aircraft carriers, with two squadrons per ship. Improved models incorporating more powerful engines and a radar soon followed.

By about 1960, it was realized that the A4D was somewhat of a one-trick pony: A nearly ideal nuclear bomber that did not have much range and couldn't carry a large load of conventional bombs. The result was the new Vought A-7, a substantial redesign of the F-8 Crusader to increase fuel capacity, eliminate supersonic capability and greatly increase weapons-carrying capacity.

The initial A-7A model entered combat in Southeast Asia in 1967 and proved to be much improved over the smaller A-4. The A model was soon followed by the A-7B. Both of these used the Pratt & Whitney TF30 turbofan, an engine also used by the F-14A Tomcat (in afterburning form) and engine that was somewhat troubled. The later A-7E had improved avionics but most importantly an Allison TF41 engine (based on the Rolls-Royce Spey) that finally fixed the engine problems.

Which takes us to the end of the light attack story, as the F/A-18A Hornet replaced the A-7 in the 1980s. Nuclear weapons were no longer the central fixation. In fact, President George H.W. Bush ordered the removal of nuclear weapons from aircraft carriers and nuclear attack is no longer a mission of carrier aircraft.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_7_nuclear_bomb
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_12_nuclear_bomb
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_A-4_Skyhawk
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LTV_A-7_Corsair_II

EDIT: Added photo of very early A4D-1 carrying Mark 7 bomb.
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      12-19-2023, 09:43 PM   #2264
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I know the F-15C is old. I know it's almost worn out and due for retirement. But it sure is pretty!
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      12-19-2023, 10:37 PM   #2265
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Originally Posted by Llarry View Post
...Unlike the USAF's F-111 Aardvark of about the same era, the A-6 was not supersonic.
Speaking of the F111, I saw a, of all people a supervisor, turn an F111 onto the final at HIF, 300kts over the ground, 12K feet above the glideslope, 2 miles outside the outer marker (about 7 miles from the runway. The computer couldn't keep up with his rate of descent, so showed XXX in the altitude portion of the data block. The computer caught up and 4 miles later he was on the glideslope at about 170kts over the ground. That must have been one wild ride!
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      12-20-2023, 10:10 AM   #2266
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I'm going to try a deeper dive into the F-15 Eagle. This is the first part -- the F-15 Eagle air superiority fighters. I'll cover the F-15E Strike Eagle models separately.

The F-15 arose from dissatisfaction within the U.S. Air Force with previous fighters. If you look at the USAF in the 1960s, you mostly see fighters that were designed for nuclear strike -- the exception being the Convair F-106 interceptor. The Air Force was lacking an air superiority fighter that could clear the way in an air war for the nuclear or conventional strike aircraft -- and aircraft that could allow the U.S. to dominate the skies. The F-4 Phantom, despite its many positive attributes, drove a bit like a truck; it had been originally designed as a Navy fleet air defense fighter (interceptor) and lacked maneuverability in the turning dogfights encountered, for instance, in Vietnam. The Air Force's latest and greatest, the F-111, was very much a strike aircraft and not suited for air superiority missions.

Further discussion can be found in the Wikipedia article, but studies and competitions resulted in the design of the McDonnel Douglas F-15 Eagle. While the company designed in the possibility of air-to-ground weapons, the overarching emphasis was on maneuverability and dogfighting capability. The F-15 also took advantage of an improved technology engine: The Pratt & Whitney F100 afterburning turbofan.

The F-15A prototype first flew in the summer of '72, a couple of years after the Navy's F-14. But the F-14 was another fleet air defense fighter -- albeit with improved dogfighting capabilities over the previous F-4.

The early flights revealed that the Air Force had a real winner. The performance was spectacular in all respects: Pure speed, climb, turning, etc. The Air Force used an early F-15A dubbed the Streak Eagle to set a number of new world climb records. The F-15A was delivered to the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, Virginia, starting in 1976 and was soon fielded in Europe as well. By 1978, an improved F-15C was in production and a wing in the Western Pacific was equipped as well. Two-seat "station wagon" training aircraft were produced as well: The F-15A was augmented with the two-seat F-15B and the F-15C was augmented with the F-15D.

The F-15 generated a lot of buzz internationally. The Israeli Air Force got some early production F-15A/Bs in 1977 and later got F-15C/Ds. Japan selected the F-15C/D as their standard fighter and it was produced in Japan as the F-15J/DJ. Saudi Arabia bought the F-15C/D air superiority variant as well, although the sale prompted some controversy in the U.S.

The grand total of F-15 air superiority models was 1,198 including F-15A/B/C/D/J/DJ variants. The U.S. has retired the F-15A model and the F-15Cs are considered to be aging. The F-15 was programmed to be replaced by the F-22A stealth fighter, but the latter's high cost led to reduced purchases and the F-15s stayed in the force.

The F-15C/D have of course been upgraded over the years, though not extensively. Some have been fitted with improved radars and electronic warfare systems.

The only currently overseas-based USAF air superiority F-15C/Ds are based in Okinawa, Japan, as a counterweight to growing Chinese air power. However, the Japan-based F-15 force has been recently halved and appears to be not long for this world. For the present, other fighter units are temporarily filling in, but just recently I have learned that consideration is being given to basing new F-15EXs in Japan. See the F-15E post below for details on the F-15EX.

The key attributes of the F-15 are minimum weight (for a large fighter), lots of engine thrust, large wing area and an excellent radar system. For really high speed (over Mach 2) a variable-geometry inlet is required -- see the attached diagram for the F-15's.

I might add that in air-to-air combat, the record of the F-15 is unsurpassed: 100 kills and no losses!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonn...las_F-15_Eagle
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Last edited by Llarry; 12-20-2023 at 06:51 PM..
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