Before heading home, though, as one of the two such aircraft was flying over California, it was tasked with performing an aerial refueling operation. The main image of this piece, a perfect fit for our Photo of the Day section, was captured by USAF’s Ethan Wagner as the F-15EX was about to perform its mission (the tanker plane is not shown).
The F-15EX is the latest incarnation of one of the American military's oldest and most capable aircraft. The family was introduced in 1976, and the most recent version is capable of flying at speeds of up to Mach 2.5, for a distance of up to 1,221 miles (1,965 km).
When it was flown by Air Force pilots not long ago, it became the first new variant of the plane to be flown in the past 15 years.
The aircraft comes with fly-by-wire flight controls, a new digital cockpit, modern radar systems, and the ADCP-II mission computer, “the world's fastest,” according to Boeing. An array of multispectral sensors (Eagle Passive Active Warning and Survivability System/EPAWSS, made by BAE Systems) meant to detect incoming threats and help the pilot deal with them is also installed on the plane.