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Behind the Lines: 'We've never lost one in combat from any type of enemy fire' 50 years of the F-15 jet

One of the Air Force's top combat jets couldn't perform without the help of Robins Air Force Base.

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. — This July marks 50 years since the first flight of an F-15 fighter jet. It is still one of the Air Force's top combat mission planes.

"We've never lost one in combat from any type of enemy fire," says Scott Smith, an F-15 test pilot at Robins Air Force Base.

"No other fighter aircraft has the capacity to carry the number of weapons and the size of weapons that the F-15 can carry," says F-15 Program Director Jesse Warren.

The rocket's red glare and bombs bursting in the air from these planes wouldn't happen without Robins Air Force Base.

"14,000 man-hours of work on each of these aircraft as they come in," says Warren.

Maintenance workers at the base's designated 'Eagle County' take the jets down to the bare bones.

"Everybody works as a team to contribute and get that F-15 all the way through that process from coming in a fully combat capable airplane, to the teardown, and then build back up again," says Smith.

They also install upgrades that keep the jet a superior opponent against any threat. There have been many changes since the first jet took off 50 years ago.

"Recently, with a new state-of-the-art mission computer," says Warren. "We're in the process of putting in new radios, a new state-of-the-art electronic warfare system."

Before a plane heads out, pilots like Smith take them out for a test ride.

"So that way, when the fighter unit gets their F-15 back, it should be as close to an original F-15 as we can make it. It should be all repaired and good to go and could go into combat the next day if we need it," says Smith.

The F-15 is the jet central Georgians can thank for the sonic booms often heard in Warner Robins.

Right now, there are a few models in rotation. That includes the single-seat C and D models and the two-seater E models.

The Air Force is also working on a new E-X model. All of the repair and upgrade work for that jet will also happen at Robins.


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