The U.S. Air Force (USAF) is reportedly requesting an upgraded version of the Boeing F-15 Eagle fighter jet in its 2020 budget, despite pushback from lawmakers and earlier skepticism from top USAF officials.
According to Bloomberg, the service wants eight Boeing F-15X Advanced Eagle jets in its 2020 budget, fewer than the expected 12 fighters.
The F-15X won’t have the stealth capabilities of the fifth-generation Lockheed Martin F-35 but could carry more ordnance and heavier payloads like hypersonic weapons, according to the report.
Nevertheless lawmakers are skeptical about the capabilities of the older plane.
“Choosing to invest in these fighters, which we know are neither lethal nor survivable against today’s advanced threats, would be a disservice to service members and taxpayers,” Sen. John Cornyn, R- Texas, and four other senators wrote in a letter to President Donald Trump on Jan. 15, 2019.
Most of the senators are from states where the F-35 is being made (Texas) or is going to be based (Alaska).
But last month, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told that the Air Force needs more fighters and must replace aging F-15Cs, while vowing that he’s is “not backing an inch off of the F-35.”
The F-15X reportedly had the backing of acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan, a former Boeing executive. But he has recused himself from decisions involving Boeing since he was tapped to join the Pentagon in 2017.
As we have explained in December the Pentagon would like to buy the F-15Xs to replace aging F-15Cs in service with the Air National Guard which have become too expensive to overhaul. Production of the F-15Cs ended in the 1980s.
The F-15X will carry more than two dozen air-to-air missiles and has modern flight controls, cockpit displays, and radar.
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.
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.
Photo credit: Senior Airman Damon Kasberg / U.S. Air Force
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com
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