New Eagles for the 493rd
Recent changes have affected the F15 fleet of USAFE. A new policy is for all front-line squadrons to have a combat-ready strength of 24 aircraft, some units only operating 18 until recently. Unfortunately, instead of seeing an increase in fighting strength, some squadrons are being axed to provide the surplus aircraft to other existing units, and so the 53rd FS based at Spangdahlem was chosen for disbandment. As the only F15 squadron in Germany, it was a logical choice so as to reduce logistical and operating costs.
Aircraft have been split to three other squadrons, seven going to the 493rd FS at RAF Lakenheath and the remainder to the 74th and 94th FSs of the 1st FW at Langley AFB, USA. A disbandment ceremony for the 53rd FS is planned for Wednesday 10 March, official disbandment being in effect 31 March. The last three F-15Cs will depart on Thursday 11 March. To bolster the remaining F16 units at Spang, the 23rd FS will receive six brand new FY96 machines and the 22nd FS six more FY97 jets in the not-too-distant future.
Airframes joining the Lakenheath Wing are:
plus F15D 84-0044 (see top of page).
The F15C is an all-weather, extremely manoeuvrable tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. It can outperform any current enemy aircraft, and is expected to prove viable well into the twenty-first century until replaced by the F22 Raptor. It has two Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-200 turbo fan engines, each producing approximately 24,000 pounds of thrust. The C variant's high acceleration and manoeuvrability are achieved through the high power to weight ratio and low wing loading, enabling it to turn quickly without losing speed. A multi-mission avionics system includes a pulse-Doppler radar system than can look-up and look-down without being confused by ground clutter. It can detect and track at BVR (beyond visual range), the radar feeding target information into the central computer and automatically acquiring enemy aircraft for weapons delivery. An electronics warfare system provides both threat warning and automatic countermeasures against selected threats.
Armament consists of four types of air to air weapons; either AIM-7 F/M Sparrows or AIM-120 AMRAAM on the lower fuselage corners, AIM-9L/M Sidewinders or AMRAAMs on two pylons under the wings and an internal 20mm cannon in the right wing root.