[Video] F-15E Strike Eagle suffers engine compressor stall on take-off

The following footage was shot by Ben Ramsay and his brother on Jan. 15, 2014, at RAF Lakenheath, UK.

It shows a local based F-15E Strike Eagle on take off from British base suffering a dramatic compressor stall/surge.

A compressor surge is a particular kind of stall resulting in a complete breakdown in compression that occurs when compressor’s blades stall because the flow is disrupted or the angle of attack gets too high, forward flow through the compressor can no longer be maintained, air piles up in the rear stages of the compressor without being compressed and a momentary reversal of flow causes a violent expulsion of previously compressed air out (sometimes) through the intakes too.

The excess air can cause a loud bang a flames (because of the high temperatures), just like shown in the footage.

The compressor will usually recover to normal flow once the engine pressure ratio reduces to a level at which the compressor is capable of sustaining stable airflow. Some engines have automatic recover functions even if pilots experiencing the surge can be compelled to act on the throttle or, in some cases, relight the engine.

The event witnessed by Ben and his brother only lasted around 0.2 seconds; the speed was still low and the pilot’s reaction (powering down both engines and apply full left rudder to compensate for the yaw induced by momentary lack of thrust from the right engine) was enough to safely abort the take-off.

However, compressor stalls can be quite dangerous (and sometimes even embarrassing).


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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. It’s an AB Blowout, a Compressor Stall the Engine essentially Hiccups. The AB Igniter probably failed and the fire went out.

    • you’re right about the AB blowout but its not an igniter failure. The Augmentor was already lit and the pressure from it suppresses the spark back into the igniter plug. When I worked eagles most blowouts were caused by a filter within the UFC becoming clogged with foam particles from the fuel tanks. There are other causes but that was common.

  2. just wondering what will replace the F15 now, after the F22 production stopped.
    What about the F15 silent eagle? Wouldn’t that make sense?

    • The F-22 was really only meant to replace the F-15C, which is the strictly air superiority fighter version of the F-15. The F-15E (shown above) was developed considerably later and conceived as more of a multirole/ground strike aircraft. It is much newer and as a result will not be in the Air Force’s cross hairs for retirement any time soon. But if I had to guess, I would bet there is some sort of F22-esque stealthy supersonic strike aircraft in development to replace the F-15E when the time comes.

  3. The F-35 does have a strike role, but it is more the size and class of an F-16. An F-15E is much larger and can carry far more ordnance than an F-35 can.

    As far as the NGAD is concerned, it’s gonna be a hell of a lot longer than 10-15 years before that program even has a prototype, especially with all the budgetary drama in DC. Not to mention, I think everyone is pretty tired of hearing about new fighter programs after the last two have been such budgetary debacles.

    But back to what I originally said, the B-1, A-10, and B-52 are all slated for retirement in the next 10 years, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Air Force at least was interest in a next generation bomber program for a stealthy medium sized aircraft that could fulfill strike and traditional bombing roles.

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