In 2019, the US Congress authorized a budget of 985 million dollars for the USAF to purchase the first 8 units of Boeing’s new F-15EX.
This is a rather exceptional fact in the military aviation because very few aircraft continue flying forever – and giving a new life to the F-15 after over 40 years in service is unbelievable.
Nearly 50 years have passed since its first test flight, and the F-15C/D Eagle fleet is approaching the end of its service. So, the F-15EX delivers a cost-effective solution to upgrade the aging F-15 with a powerful version of this practical fighter jet.
So, what are the main differences between the F-15EX and the F-15?
Why is the USAF upgrading the F-15 Eagle?
The F-15EX is a fighter aircraft that will improve the capabilities of the fourth generation F-15. It’s definitely the most evolved variant of the F-15 family, and this new fighter is envisioned to join the F-35A, F-16, and A-10, along with the future sixth-generation NGAD aircraft.
For USAF authorities, getting more aircraft like the F-35 wouldn’t be as effective as updating the F-15 family with the F-15EX model because it’s the most cost-effective and rapid way to upgrade the capacities of the aging F-15C/D. In addition, the F-15EX will be ready for combat as soon as it goes out of the assembly line, and at a lower cost than an F-35.
Differences of the new F-15EX from previous F-15 models
The most distinguishing feature between the F-15EX and the F-15 is its Open Mission Systems (OMS) architecture. The OMS architecture allows the quick incorporation of the latest aircraft technologies, making sure this fighter jet will be capable of having top-notch technologies with fairly low costs.
Additionally, the cost-effectiveness of building the F-15EX is meaningful. The significant advantage of modernizing this aircraft will be in terms of operational and flight hour costs because the F-35 has a flight hour cost of over $30k, while the F-15EX will have a cost per flight hour of around $27,000.
The controversy of the F-15EX program
The F-15EX, despite being a decisive and modern aircraft, has no stealth capabilities and will end up playing a little defensive role at a time when the U.S. Air Force has a narrow fleet of fighter aircraft.
Many leading experts consider that the USAF should think long-term and dedicate financial resources to ramping up F-35 production or developing another affordable and flexible fighter aircraft instead of updating the F-15, which is a short-term solution.
F-15EX fighter jet is powered by a couple of F110-GE-129 engines, and it can fly at a speed of Mach 2.5. This cutting-edge fighter has a length of 63 feet 9.6 inches, and a wingspan of 63 feet 9.6 inches. It can launch hypersonic weapons and has a maximum takeoff weight of 81,000 pounds.
The F-15EX is built to be relevant for decades
Compared to the older F-15 models, the F-15EX features advanced radars and sensors that give it greater survivability that help it meet the new threats of 21st century aerial warfare.
So, the F-15 is no longer an aircraft from the ’70s. On the contrary, it features the latest technology such as new sensors, weapons, and electronics. With these improvements, it will be a lethal and pretty effective aircraft for years.
Feature image source: Tech. Sgt. John McRell 40th Flight Test Squadron by John McRell. Public Domain.