This type of fighter aircraft came to be in 1979, sporting improvements over the original F-15, including room for additional fuel (2,000 pounds/900 kg of it), and an increased maximum takeoff weight of up to 68,000 pounds (30,600 kg). In all, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) has 249 Eagles of various types in its inventory, and used the planes in most of America’s modern wars. Most of the time though, we get to see them while on training missions.
It is such an instance we have here, with an F-15C deployed with the 159th Fighter Wing from the Louisiana Air National Guard taking part in Operation Noble Defender at the beginning of July.
The pic, recently released by the USAF, shows the F-15 as it flies formation with a KC-135 Stratotanker deployed with the 92nd Air Refueling Wing – it's from this tanker that the stunning shot of the fighter jet was captured.
As for Noble Defender, the series of exercises was organized by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) as an “integrated air and missile defense operation designed to ensure the defense and security of the northern and southern approaches to North America.”
July’s iteration involved joint operations between Continental U.S. NORAD Region and the U.S. Navy, with fighter jets being scrambled from across the country’s Gulf coast and Puerto Rico.