Combat Veteran F-15C Eagle Arrives in Dayton for Preservation

F-15C Eagle 86-0156 beating up the field at Wright-Patterson AFB. The aircraft, which scored two aerial victories against Yugoslav AF MiG-29s over Kosovo, will eventually go on permanent display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (NMUSAF photos by Ty Greenlees)
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by Adam Estes

NMUSAF Accepts Historic F-15C Eagle

On April 25th, the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio received yet another historic aircraft for its vast collection, this being combat-veteran McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle 86-0156. The aircraft arrived from its former with the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard at Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, Massachusetts. Lt. Col. Matthew “Beast” Tanis flew the aircraft on this final flight, beating up the field with a high speed pass on full afterburner before landing. While Tanis had mixed feelings about 86-0156 ending its flying career, he took great pride in the responsibility which both he and his crew chief, Staff Sergeant Joshua Webster, had in maintaining the fighter’s operational status, and that the aircraft will be preserved for future generations to see. This airframe also has two aerial victories to its name, presently more than any other U.S. Air Force aircraft since the Vietnam War. 

Lt. Col. Matthew “Beast” Tanis talking with the media following his arrival at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio while flying the F-15C Eagle (86-0186) behind him. The aircraft, which scored two aerial victories over Yugoslav AF MiG-29s over Kosovo, will eventually go on permanent display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (NMUSAF photos by Ty Greenlees)

Like most aircraft of sufficient age in today’s armed forces, 86-0156 has served with numerous different units stationed at bases all over the nation and indeed the world. What makes 86-0156 unique, however, are the two green stars under its canopy, victory marks achieved over the Balkans during Operation Allied Force.

On March 26, 1999, Captain Jeff “Claw” Hwang of the 493rd Fighter Squadron, 48th Fighter Wing based at RAF Lakenheath in England, was leading a combat air patrol to enforce the no-fly zone over Bosnia when two Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29s of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Air Force (JRV) scrambled to intercept a NATO aircraft heading towards Bosnia. Captain Hwang and his wingman, Captain J. “Boomer” McMurray, spotted the two MiGs on their radar screens even though the E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft supporting them had yet to register the enemy aircraft. Hwang and McMurray decided to follow the MiGs in case they breached the no-fly zone, which they soon did. Hwang and McMurray then both fired AIM-120 missiles at the MiGs, but only Hwang’s weapons successfully struck their targets, downing both enemy jets. 

Audio of the fighter intercept is available below…

While LtCol Slobodan Perić managed to eject from his stricken MiG, surviving the incident, Major Zoran “Zoki” Radosavljević was less fortunate and perished in the wreck of his fighter. As for Jeff Hwang, he later joined the Oregon Air National Guard. He later retired with the rank of colonel while serving as Vice Commander of the 142nd Fighter Wing at Portland Air National Guard Base on September 19th, 2014.

F-15C Eagle 86-0156 seen here at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, England on April 20th, 2021 while serving with the 493rd Fighter Squadron, 48th Fighter Wing. Note the two green victory stars underneath the cockpit. (photo by Alan Wilson via Wikimedia)

As for 86-0156’s future, the aircraft will have to be made safe and prepared for public display, although the museum has not yet released details on when that will take place. According to an article in the Dayton Daily News, Meghan Anderson, curator of the museum’s Research Division, stated that the F-15C will likely replace one of the two F-15A Eagles already on display at the museum, although details have yet to be finalized. We will provide further updates as more information becomes available.

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