F-15C Eagle landing at RAF Lakenheath

F-15C Aircraft 'One Of The Safest Fast Jets That's Out There'

An F-15C jet was involved in a fatal crash over the North Sea on Monday.

F-15C Eagle landing at RAF Lakenheath

An aviation expert has told Forces News the F-15C Eagle is "probably one of the safest fast jets that's out there", despite one of the aircraft crashing over the North Sea.

The cause which led to a US Air Force F-15C aircraft crashing on Monday was "unknown", according to an American military official speaking shortly after the incident.

The jet's pilot, later identified as First Lieutenant Kenneth Allen, was killed in the incident.

Lt Allen was assistant chief of weapons and tactics for the 493rd Fighter Squadron.

The F-15C was from 48th Fighter Wing and based at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk.

What is the F-15?

The F-15 Eagle is a family of twin-engine multi-role fighter aircraft manufactured by Boeing.

Its initial variant had its first flight in 1972 and entered service with the US Air Force two years later in 1974.

The United States Air Force, as well as Israel, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and South Korea are known to use F-15 aircraft.

According to Janes, 409 of the F-15C model were built for the US, with the aircraft entering service with the US Air Force in 1979. 

A total of 211 'C' variant jets remain in service today, with those in the UK based at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk.

Following Monday's crash, Royal Air Force spokesman Martin Tinworth said the aircraft has an "exceptional flight safety record".

Watch: Janes' aviation expert talks about the F-15 in more detail.

"It's probably one of the safest fast jets that's out there," John Sneller, Head of Aviation at Janes, told Forces News.

"In 40 years, it's had many modifications and upgrades to keep it safe," he added.

The F-15C is a single-seat aircraft which has two engines and is used in an air interception role.

"It would be up high and intercepting intruding aircraft on a sort of day-to-day basis," he said.

"Its safety record as an aircraft [and] as an airframe is very good indeed."

An F-15 Eagle can reach an altitude of 18,290 m (60,000 ft) with a top speed of 1,482 km/h (921 mph).

"Like many of these aircraft, [they] get to about 25 years and need a structural sort of improvement, normally around the centre of the fuselage area, where the wings are sort of bolted on.

"They're normally to improve the fatigue, and therefore, the life of the aircraft," Mr Sneller explained.

"The C [variant] sits alongside two F-15E model squadrons at Lakenheath, which are much more recent aircraft," he added.

Mr Sneller continued that while the F-15C is "drawing to the end of its life", "it will have had many inspections to ensure that it reaches it safely," he said.

Cover image: A library picture of a US Air Force F-15C Eagle (Picture: US Air Force).