The F-15X will carry more than two dozen air-to-air missiles and has modern flight controls, cockpit displays, and radar
Marcus Weisgerber reports on Defense One that Boeing is quietly peddling a new variant of its F-15, dubbed F-15X, to the Pentagon.
The F-15X will carry more than two dozen air-to-air missiles and has modern flight controls, cockpit displays, and radar.
“We see the marketplace expanding internationally and it’s creating opportunities then to go back and talk to the U.S. Air Force about what might be future upgrades or even potentially future acquisitions of the F-15 aircraft,” Gene Cunningham, vice president of global sales of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, said Friday at the Royal International Air Tattoo in England.
The USAF has not procured new F-15s since placing a 2001 order for five F-15E Strike Eagles, the two-seat fighter bomber variant of the mighty F-15.
However unlike Boeing successful Super Hornet pitch to the Trump administration last year, the F-15 pitch has not made its way to White House, according to sources with knowledge of the project. When Trump visited a Boeing commercial factory in South Carolina in February 2017 in fact, reporters traveling with the President spotted then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus with a Boeing white paper that compared an advanced version of the F/A-18 Super Hornet to the F-35 Lightning II made by rival Lockheed Martin.
However USAF leaders are currently evaluating their mix of aircraft.
“We have a new National Defense Strategy and the Air Force is working through the process of determining what Air Force is needed to meet that new National Defense Strategy and how do you represent that to the world,” pointed out Gen. James “Mike” Holmes, the head of Air Combat Command, on Jun. 28 at a Defense Writers Group breakfast in Washington.
Among the options being considered are new versions of F-15s and F-16s, according to one Air Force observer.
American allies Israel, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and South Korea fly tailored versions of the F-15. The newest member of the Eagle club is Qatar, which ordered 36 aircraft last year and has an option for 36 more. Boeing is also pitching the F-15 to Germany, which wants to replace its Tornado jets.
Boeing’s Cunningham, said the company is also offering upgrades to existing F-15s with technology used in the newer ally aircraft.
“This is the most traction I’ve ever seen legacy four [generation aircraft] get in the Air Force,” the Air Force observer said.
The F-15 was supposed to be replaced the by the stealthy F-22 Raptor — considered the top air-to-air combat fighter. But despite objections from top Air Force generals, the F-22 production ended in 2009 with the final Raptor coming off of Lockheed Martin’s Marietta, Georgia, production line in 2012. In all, the USAF purchased 187 F-22s, far less than the more than 750 originally planned.
At the time, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates opted to invest in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter multi-role fighter bomber aircraft.
Foreign versions of the F-15 have received newer technology not around when the American planes were built.
Boeing has long tried to sell new versions of the Strike Eagle to the USAF and international customers. In 2010, the company pitched the Silent Eagle — an F-15 with special coating and canted vertical tails — that executives said could better evade enemy detection. In 2015, it pitched an upgrade to the F-15C — the aerial combat version — that would allow it to carry 16 air-to-air missiles.
At times, Boeing has argued that upgraded versions of their planes could come close to matching the advanced stealth, sensors and electronic warfare capabilities of the F-35 at a fraction of the cost.
A USAF source noted that buying new F-15s now would not be seen as competing with the F-35 since the Lightning II has never been considered a replacement for the F-15.
Photo credit: Boeing
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