- A US Air Force F-15C scored the longest “kill” shot ever recorded in a recent test.
- The fighter took out a BQ-167 aerial target drone in March at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida.
- The Air Force did not disclose the distance, as that information could be valuable to adversaries.
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A US Air Force F-15C Eagle fighter fired the longest known air-to-air “kill” shot to date in a recent test, the service said Wednesday.
The fighter fired an AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) at a BQ-167 target drone and scored a “kill” from the farthest distance ever recorded during testing at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida in March, the 53rd Wing said in a statement.
The wing did not say exactly what the distance was, as that information could be valuable to adversaries, particularly given ongoing efforts by US rivals to develop long-range air-to-air missiles for improved standoff in air-to-air combat.
The weapon that was fired during the testing last month was an AIM-120D, the latest version of an all-weather, beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile that first entered service in the early 1990s, a wing spokesperson told Insider.
It is unclear if the weapon or aircraft involved in the test were modified in any way.
The Air Force plans to eventually replace the AMRAAM with a weapon called the AIM-260 Joint Advanced Tactical Missile, a longer-range air-to-air missile expected to be able to better compete with some of the systems developed by US rivals, such as China’s PL-15 missile.
The Air Force is also pursuing other lines of effort as America’s competitors do the same.
The aircraft used to launch the missile is a venerable combat platform that has served the US Air Force for decades. An F-15 has never been shot down in air-to-air combat, according to the Air Force.
But the average age of the Air Force’s legacy F-15C/D fighters is almost 40 years, and about 75% of the fleet is flying past its service life.
The Air Force intends to steadily replace all of these fighter aircraft with either the fifth-generation F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter or the advanced fourth-generation F-15 Eagle II, previously known as the F-15EX. The service received its first new Eagle in March.
The long-range “kill” shot by a legacy F-15 in March was part of efforts to develop “long range kill chain” capabilities.
The test was carried out by the 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron in partnership with the 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron.
The test “exercised existing long-range weapons testing infrastructure and laid the ground work for modernizing range capabilities in support of future long-range weapons testing on the Eglin-Gulf Test and Training Range,” the 53rd Wing said in its statement.