Mark J. Arriola
Don't pass up a new version of the F-15.
Bad News, F-35: Air Force Colonel Tells Us Why He Loves the F-15X Fighter
As a young 26-year-old fighter pilot, I had the glorious honor of flying F-15C’s during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. While stationed with the 58th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS), I was deployed to Tabuk, Saudi Arabia. During that conflict, I witnessed firsthand the powerful force multiplier that the F-15 Eagle provided to the battle plan.
We flew High-Value Airborne Asset (HVAA), Pre-strike Sweep, Detached Escort, and Combat Air Patrol (CAP) missions. We were re-rolled while airborne to provide cover for Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) missions. The versatility and capabilities of the F-15 to provide clear dominance in all those missions has not changed.
Politicians in Washington, D.C. are having a debate pitting the F-15 versus the F-35 stealth fighter jet. From my perspective as a person who has flown the F-15C on missions, there is no need to move away from that amazing and versatile fighter jet. Politicians are making decisions that may help the people who make the F-35, but the people that matter the most, the U.S. Air Force fighter pilots, should have all the tools they need to fight in modern warfare.
My experiences show examples of how the F-15 is a proven fighter jet with years and years of accomplishment. My very first combat mission involved 8 Multi-Stage Improvement Program (MSIP) F15Cs in a pre-strike role. We split into two four-ship formations as there were two Iraqi Air Force MiG-29's airborne separated by 200 nautical miles. Our four-ship engaged two MiG-29s which were subsequently destroyed by AiM-7M missiles. The main reason for sharing that small story was to demonstrate the amazing reliability that our F15s maintained during the entire conflict. The 58th TFS flew 1,182 combat sorties and 7000 hours. Two statistics that prove without a doubt how reliable and dependable the F-15 Eagle is a force multiplier.