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“LUCKY” reaches prestigious milestone

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Sean Martin
  • 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Publlic Affairs

U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY – The F-15E Strike Eagle, a fearsome multirole fighter, reigns supreme in the air-to-ground arena. One specific Strike Eagle, “LUCKY”, recently reached a prestigious milestone, reaching 15,000 flight hours during a combat sortie on May 17, 2024, while deployed within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.


The Strike Eagle with tail number #89-0487 came into service in 1989, and hundreds of maintenance personnel have supported the platform over the nearly 35 years of service. However, one dedicated crew chief has been a part of many milestones with the aircraft.


 A U.S. Airman, deployed from North Carolina’s Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, has been working on “LUCKY” since 2019. “I have worked on this jet when it reached the 13,000, 14,000 and now 15,000 flight hour mark,” said the Airman.


The U.S. Air Force has deployed the F-15E Strike Eagle to support U.S. Air Forces Central operations within the region for decades to support assurance and deterrence missions, including in support of OPERATION Desert Storm, OPERATION Enduring Freedom, and OPERATION Inherent Resolve. The U.S. Air Force has also equipped several nations with variations of the platform, and its global presence provides opportunities to integrate with allies and partners operating the same platform.


The first F-15E was delivered in April 1988, and the 15,000-flight hour milestone leaves a historic mark to the Strike Eagle community and serves as a testament to those who fly, service, and maintain the 219 aircraft in the Total Force inventory.


“Lots of maintenance, long hours, and many upgrades are needed to ensure jets are ready at a moment’s notice,” said the Airman. “Literal blood, sweat and tears went into achieving this milestone.”


The average service life for an F-15E is approximately 10,000 flight hours, making the 15,000-flight hour milestone even more meaningful to the maintenance community who maintains its airworthiness. Wright notes the “milestone is unheard of” for the airframe, and she is honored to be a part of the team responsible for LUCKY’s milestone, especially in a deployed combat environment.


“‘LUCKY’ has been an honor to crew,” said the Airman. “All of the crew chiefs, both past and present, paved the way for the standard needed to maintain this jet. There are people all over the world who know her story and constantly ask me about how it’s doing.”


The F-15E Strike Eagle has made an impact in the U.S. Central Command theater of operations for decades, and U.S. Air Forces Central’s deployed Airmen continue to maintain and operate platforms like “LUCKY” who will continue making a historic impact across the region.