Boeing hopes F-15QA new wing will one day be selected as a service life extension option for the U.S. Air Force’s F-15Cs
Boeing has designed a new wing for Qatar’s F-15QA that it hopes will one day be selected as a service life extension option for the U.S. Air Force’s F-15Cs.
Flight Global says the new wing retains the same aerodynamic profile but internally it has been strengthen using new manufacturing techniques that Boeing developed over the last few years.
The government of Qatar awarded Boeing a $6.2 billion contract for 36 F-15QA (Qatari Advanced) fighters in late December that extends the St. Louis-based production line through the end of 2022.
The F-15QA introduces a number of previously announced features, including an advanced cockpit system with a large format display, says Steve Parker, Boeing’s vice-president of F-15 programmes.
As the F-15QA enters development, Boeing sees opportunities to replace the wings on existing F-15Cs, if the USAF decides to keep the twin-engined fighter in service for more than two more decades.
Over the past two years, the USAF has discussed options for keeping a subset of the F-15C fleet in service through the mid- to late-2030s. Those aircraft would require a longeron replacement with a $1 million cost per shipset, Parker says. Some Air Force officials also are discussing options to keep the F-15Cs in service even longer, which could require a wing replacement, Parker says.
As we have already explained also Japan Air Self-Defence Force (JASDF), may consider structural upgrades to keep their F-15s in service beyond planned retirement dates.
According Flight Global, Boeing showed off other possible upgrades for the 45-year-old F-15 fleet in a virtual reality display set up inside the exhibit hall of the Air Warfare Symposium on Feb. 22-23, 2018. The digital imagery included a concept for a “conformal technology pod” which would replace the conformal fuel tank with a pod that can carry advanced sensors, such as a side-looking synthetic aperture radar.
Boeing also showed images of an F-15 adorned with the “Amber” multiple ejector rack, allowing the fighter to carry up to 22 air-to-air missiles.
Those proposed new upgrades come after a multi-year revitalisation of F-15 capabilities, including a new mission computer, electronic-scan radar, a new electronic warfare suite, fly-by-wire flight controls, newly-activated weapon stations and the more powerful GE Aviation F110-GE-129 engines.
“We’re just taking the F-15 through a metamorphosis,” Parker says.
Moreover, Boeing plans to win new orders for the F-15. Qatar ordered 36, but is approved by the U.S. Congress to order up to 72, Parker says. The company also is delivering a requested classified briefing about the F-15 to the German air force, as one of several candidates to replace the Germany’s fleet of Panavia Tornados, Parker says.
“It’s not dead by a long shot,” he adds. “It’s got a bright future ahead.”
Noteworthy, along with the 36 F-15QAs, the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) has ordered 24 Eurofighter Typhoon and 24 Dassault Rafales. Noteworthy the service has a requirement for 72 new combat aircraft to replace its aging fleet of 12 Dassault Mirage 2000-5 fighters. If the Typhoon order is fulfilled in full, the QEAF will field a fighter force of 84 platforms across three different types.
According to Jane’s, for some years, Qatar has been building up its combat aviation capabilities with the procurement of the latest platforms and technologies. The increase in the QEAF’s frontline fighter force from the current 12 aircraft to upwards of 84, in particular, will represent a massive enhancement in its capacity and capability.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force and Teddy Techer
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com