The U.S. Air Force (USAF) initiating its first fourth-generation fighter program in more than 20 years: the service in fact is moving forward with plans to purchase a new variant of the combat proven Boeing F-15 Eagle fighter jet.
The USAF in fact announced that it will sole-source two contracts, one for the F-15EX and the other for its F110 engines, in a presolicitation notice recently posted on the government’s acquisition and awards website, beta.sam.gov.
The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center “intends to award a sole source indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contract to The Boeing Company for a refresh to the F-15C/D fleet and augment the F-15E fleet,” one solicitation reads. the Defense Department expects a response from Boeing by Feb. 7, Military.com says.
The second notice claims that another ID/IQ contract with the same response due date to General Electric Aviation “to provide F110 propulsion systems to meet the F-15EX weapons system requirement,” will be awarded by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center.
The USAF wants at least eight new F-15 “fourth-plus” variants in its inventory.
In December, Congress signed off on the plan, but with a caveat: the service requested $1.05 billion for eight aircraft, but lawmakers are limiting the buy to just two at first, according to the fiscal 2020 defense appropriations bill.
“Of the funds provided in Aircraft Procurement/Air Force for the remaining six F-15EX aircraft, no more than $64,800,000 for long-lead materials may be obligated until the Secretary of the Air Force submits a report” regarding the program’s strategy and future schedule, the bill stated.
Current F-15C/Ds are beyond their service life “and have SERIOUS structures risks, wire chafing issues, and obsolete parts,” the USAF said in March 2019. The service added that readiness goals cannot be achieved because of the aging aircraft’s repairs, modernization efforts, and structural inspections.
The high-profile deal spikes the interest of many, as the F-15EX is bought while F-35 purchases are in full-swing. The EX is most probably cheaper in use, and since the USAF already has a full Eagle infrastructure, the EX is easy to incorporate in current squadron operations.
Photo credit: Boeing
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