NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center has received three F-15D Eagle aircraft from the U.S. Air Force for use in flight research and mission support roles. The demilitarized high-performance aircraft arrived at NASA Dryden Sept. 21 after being transferred from the 325th Fighter Wing at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
One of the twin-engine, two-seat tactical fighters will replace Dryden’s aging F-15B Research Testbed aircraft, tail number 836. A second F-15D will be used as a mission operations support aircraft, while a third will serve as a spare parts source. Built in the late 1970s by McDonnell Douglas Corp. -- now part of the Boeing Co. -- in St. Louis, Mo., the three aircraft carry Air Force serial numbers 78-0564, 78-0565, and 79-0007.
Meanwhile, the F-15B they will replace reached a major milestone this summer, making its 400th NASA research flight on July 28, 2010. This distinction puts F-15B No. 836 in sole possession of the record for the most research flights ever of a single aircraft at NASA Dryden.
By comparison, Dryden’s iconic red, white and blue NF-15B, tail number 837, flew 250 flights at Dryden prior to its retirement in early 2009. The first X-31 flew 292 flights, with the second X-31 aircraft flying 267 flights at the center.
Acquired in 1993 from the Hawaii Air National Guard, Dryden's F-15B has also been used for crew training, pilot proficiency and safety chase support for other research aircraft in addition to its own research experiments.
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center