Boeing is engaged in a interval of intensive flight-testing of its newest variant of the F-15, which is on order for the Qatar Emiri Air Pressure. The F-15QA is probably the most state-of-the-art variant of the Eagle to this point, constructing upon the F-15SA that was developed for Saudi Arabia. Qatar has ordered 36 F-15QAs, that are the primary to function a brand new Superior Cockpit System with Massive Space Shows, amongst different enhancements. The F-15QA is the variant upon which the U.S. Air Pressure’s new F-15EX shall be based mostly.
Boeing introduced the primary flight of the F-15QA on April 14, 2020, which passed off on the producer’s Lambert Worldwide Airport in St. Louis, Missouri. Three F-15QAs are at present in Boeing’s flight-test program, with two examples having been dispatched to Air Pressure Plant 42 at Palmdale, in California, for intensive trials in November. “This is largely a mission systems and cockpit test effort, focusing on these key areas,” defined Boeing Chief Check Pilot Matt “Phat” Giese, talking completely to The Conflict Zone.
“We are going to touch pretty much every aspect of the mission system, and make sure everything is integrated properly for this customer. This is a short part of the overall test program [for the F-15QA], and involves just a few weeks here in Palmdale. There’s some unique things we can do here from a range and airspace capability that we just can’t get at our plant in St Louis, and that’s why we have this mini deployment.”
Giese defined that the present check work at Palmdale is designed to make sure that the primary F-15QAs are prepared for supply to the shopper in 2021. “The key is to clear the critical test points that we can’t get done in St. Louis, so we can support the first ferry next year — that’s what we are driving maturity into the system for.”
“The nearby R-2508 range complex is one of the areas we are training in, so you can get the air-to-ground, low-altitude, parts completed. One of the key things out here on the west coast is the Sea Test Range for over-water testing.” Giese stated that the Palmdale detachment coincided with the Boeing check group passing the 100 flight check hour milestone throughout the check fleet of three F-15QAs.
Giese has been closely concerned in check work associated to the Boeing Superior F-15. “It was a little nostalgic bringing the F-15QA out here, as it’s been a while since we were here [testing the Royal Saudi Air Force F-15SA]. So it was exciting to get back on the site. It reminds me of the hard work we put in over a seven year period on the Advanced F-15’s digital fly-by-wire [FBW] system.” The F-15SA was the primary variant of the Eagle to function a fly-by-wire system.
“I’ve been involved from the very beginning of this new transition, where we took an incremental leap from the — for lack of a better term — “legacy” F-15 to what’s now a “digital” F-15, and that occurred once we made the primary flight of the Saudi jet on February 20, 2013. I used to be part of the following testing out right here, and that was full envelope — excessive and quick, low and sluggish — all of the issues we needed to do to confirm the envelope.”
The transfer to fly-by-wire management was a transformational leap for the F-15, and represented one of many largest upgrades for the reason that very first YF-15A made its maiden flight in June 1972. It meant that the Boeing check group needed to successfully begin from scratch when it got here to evaluating the F-15SA. “The point of the flight-test program for the digital Eagle was to verify the entire flight envelope,” explains Giese. “The Advanced F-15 has new flight control computers, and a new digital architecture — so with the complete redesign we had to go out and verify numbers that had been in the tech orders since the 1970s.”
“We re-validated the envelope, and verified that the performance was as good as or better — in almost all cases better — than [earlier] F-15s. Some of that testing included flutter, where you shake the airplane at very high speeds and at varying altitudes, to determine if there’s going to be any vibrations that are objectionable or cause any structural damage. We did noise and vibration testing, and high angle-of-attack work to demonstrate that the aircraft is not just a good high and fast fighter, but also able to fly slow when the pilot needs to turn hard and point at something. It was as if it was a brand new clean sheet design, and as a test pilot, I was in heaven.”
The purpose of bringing fly-by-wire to the F-15 was threefold. Reliability, redundancy, and efficiency. “From a reliability perspective, you have two flight control computers, and each has two channels, plus quadruple inputs to each of the flight control surfaces. A quad-redundant flight control system from the flight control computers to the stabilators provides very high levels of reliability. The mean time between failures for flight control problems rose significantly higher. I can say personally, in the six-plus years of flight-test that I did on the new digital fly-by-wire flight control system, I had zero ground aborts for flight controls.”
“In the performance realm, the F-15 has always been awesome at going high and fast — we’re the only jet that gets out to Mach 2.5 — but it’s also a really good low speed, high angle-of-attack fighter if you need to get into the fight in a phonebooth with an adversary. With helmet mounted sights there’s less of a requirement to point at an adversary to prosecute an attack, but if you need to turn, the Advanced F-15 has incredible capability. Throughout the test program I tried to spin this jet, and I was unsuccessful, even with high lateral asymmetry on the platform. This is a very stable, safe, reliable, flight control system.”