WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force announced Wednesday the F-15EX Eagle II fighter has finished a key test and evaluation phase with the successful launch of air-to-air and air-to-ground standoff munitions.

The data collected from the test could pave the way for a decision on full-rate production for the newest version of the Boeing-made fourth-generation fighter.

The Air Force’s two test F-15EXs launched Joint Direct Attack Munitions, Small Diameter Bombs and Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles during the Combat Hammer exercise that concluded Aug. 25, the 53rd Wing told Defense News. The wing carried out the exercise, meant to evaluation weapons systems, at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

Capt. Lindsey Heflin, a spokeswoman for the wing, said the weapons were employed during a wide range of scenarios.

The Air Force said that the weapons used during the test represent the longest-range air-to-air and air-to-ground standoff munitions in the U.S. military’s arsenal, and mark the completion of the F-15EX’s first phase of integrated test and evaluation efforts.

During that phase, the fighter took part in 19 large-force events to test how well it could integrate with fifth-generation aircraft and fire other air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions, the Air Force said.

In November 2022, for example, the F-15EX test-fired AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles from two new weapons stations. The Air Force later said that test marked a step toward the fighter being able to carry up to 12 missiles — more than any other F-15 variant.

Maj. Calvin Connor, F-15 division commander for the 53rd Wing’s 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron, said in a service statement that the exercise showed the F-15EX was able to employ three Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles.

Now that the F-15EX’s first integrated test and evaluation phase is done, the Air Force said, its Operational Test and Evaluation Center as well as the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation office will analyze the collected data. This data will be used to help make a decision on full-rate production for the fighter in the months to come.

The 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron carried out the tests, alongside the 53rd Wing’s 83rd and 86th fighter weapons squadrons.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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