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USAF Buying the F15EX

MarkOttawa

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More at the excellent "The War Zone":

The Air Force’s New F-15EX Eagle Just Took To The Sky For The First Time (Updated)

The flight comes nearly 50 years after the F-15A first flew. This latest Eagle iteration is set to replace the USAF's F-15C/D fleet, and maybe more.​


Plus earlier:

What It Is Like Flying The Most Advanced F-15 Eagle Ever Built​


A test pilot's perspective on Qatari F-15QA trials that will pave the way to deliveries in 2021, and help the development of the USAF’s new F-15EX.​


Mark
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MarkOttawa

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F-15EX and hypersonics, plus USAF fighter fleet composition:

F-15EX's Future Role As A Hypersonic Missile Truck Touted Officially By The Air Force​

The formal delivery of the Air Force's first new F-15 in years comes as the service is looking at making major changes to its force structure plans.​


The U.S. Air Force has officially accepted delivery of its first F-15EX fighter, the first new F-15 of any kind it has acquired in years, which is now headed to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida to begin testing. At the same time, the service appears to have confirmed that these aircraft will have roles beyond air-to-air combat, notably as launch platforms for future hypersonic missiles.

Boeing, the manufacturer of the F-15EX, formally turned the first jet over to the Air Force at its facility in St. Louis, Missouri, on March 10, 2021. The aircraft, which has the serial number 20-001, was spotted flying in that area in its full Air Force paint scheme, including Eglin Air Force Base tail codes, last month, just weeks after its first flight. The service hopes to eventually buy at least 144 of these aircraft to replace its aging F-15C/D Eagles and there have also been discussions about acquiring more of them to supplant its F-15E Strike Eagles, as well...

"In addition, it’s capable of carrying hypersonic weapons, giving it a niche role in future near-peer conflicts," Colonel Dorey, the Air Force's F-15EX Program Manager, said in his statement. This role has been hinted at by both the service and Boeing in the past and was something that we here at The War Zone posited could be a secondary mission set for the aircraft when we broke the F-15EX story back in 2018. This does appear to be the first official confirmation that it is, at least, actively being explored as a role for these new aircraft.

It's not clear what, if any, specific hypersonic weapon the Air Force might be looking at integrating onto the F-15EX already, but there are a number of possible options, including multiple air-breathing hypersonic cruise missiles, in various stages of development now. Boeing, in the past, has said that the F-15EX's centerline pylon can accommodate weapons up to 22 feet long and that weigh up to around 7,000 pounds. It has shown off a model with a notional 7,300-pound hypersonic missile previously, as well...

What other units now equipped with the F-15C/Ds might subsequently receive F-15EXs remains to be seen. All of this notably comes amid a major review of the tactical airpower force structure across the entire Air Force, to include the Air National Guard. Major changes in planning are now being openly discussed, including the acquisition of new F-16 fighter jets, reductions in planned purchases of F-35A stealth fighters, and greater integration of unmanned platforms. The Air Force has already been experimenting with using F-15C/D Eagles as aerial launch platforms for networked "loyal wingman" type drones, another role that the F-15EX could potentially assume in the future.

The Air Force's long-standing plans to buy more than 1,700 F-35As, the projected sustainment costs for which have been steadily growing, have been under particular scrutiny in recent weeks, including from members of Congress. “What does the F-35 give us? Is there a way to cut our losses?" Adam Smith, a Democrat from Washington State who currently chairs the House Armed Service Committee, said during a hearing last week.

"Is there a way to not keep spending so much money for such a low capability, because the sustainment costs are brutal," he continued, acknowledging that it would be virtually impossible to simply "get rid of the [F-35] program," but saying he favored a more balanced mix of types. “I want to stop throwing money down that particular rat hole."

At the same time, the Air Force has stressed that the F-35A remains an important part of its future force structure plans. That being said, “you don’t drive your Ferrari to work every day, you only drive it on Sundays," Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles Brown had said in February. "This is our ‘high end’ [fighter], we want to make sure we don’t use it all for the low-end fight."..

Mark
 

CBH99

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The Air Force's long-standing plans to buy more than 1,700 F-35As, the projected sustainment costs for which have been steadily growing, have been under particular scrutiny in recent weeks, including from members of Congress. “What does the F-35 give us? Is there a way to cut our losses?" Adam Smith, a Democrat from Washington State who currently chairs the House Armed Service Committee, said during a hearing last week.

"Is there a way to not keep spending so much money for such a low capability, because the sustainment costs are brutal," he continued, acknowledging that it would be virtually impossible to simply "get rid of the [F-35] program," but saying he favored a more balanced mix of types. “I want to stop throwing money down that particular rat hole."



Ooooffff. Some of the comments about the F-35 coming out of multiple high ranking USAF sources are pretty damning. Buying more F-15's (which is probably a good idea regardless of the F-35 status) and upgraded/new build F-16's are both solid indicators that the sustainment costs for using F-35's for everything is pretty high, even for the USAF.

I wonder if the data accumulated from the USAF experience also factored into the proposed cut of RAF F-35's? No idea, just wondering. The sustainment costs due to the high-tech skin and radar absorbing paint does seem pretty pricey.
 

MilEME09

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I would rather have 80 F-15EX but it’s not an offering...
Agreed, or better yet if lower unit cost allows bump up to 100. Latest pylons developed would allow 32 AMRAAM's. We don't need stealth if you broke force it.
 

Cdn Blackshirt

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With so many international customers buying the F-35 you would have to assume that what LM is "selling" in those pitches must be very different from the reality they are discovering in the USAF....
 
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Colin Parkinson

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Mind you all large military purchases are political, so buying the F15x may be a way of keeping LM nose to the grindstone or ensuring there are two fighter manufacturers in the US.
 

Quirky

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The two-seat EX would make for excellent cargo storage in the rear seat. Golf Clubs, fishing rods, etc. All the necessities for a long TD down in Miramar or Key West.
 

Weinie

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The two-seat EX would make for excellent cargo storage in the rear seat. Golf Clubs, fishing rods, etc. All the necessities for a long TD down in Miramar or Key West.
And don’t forget lobster on the way back.
 

Gorgo

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Would the F-15EX be better overall in comparison to the F-35 given recent statements declaring the whole thing a massive spending failure, though?
 

Quirky

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Would the F-15EX be better overall in comparison to the F-35 given recent statements declaring the whole thing a massive spending failure, though?

None of the foreign sale nations are complaining about costs, only the USA. The US Air Forces operate too many different variants of aircraft from different manufactures all from different eras. The goal is to have one, main fighter aircraft in your fleet - Sweden, Finland, Norway, Netherlands, Demark and soon Canada all have taken this leap. The US will never operate a single fighter due to a cultural and political need to have competition in the private sector. Complaining about prices is purely political within the DoD and Congress.

The F-15EX was never offered to Canada. Arguing about why it's a better option because of X reasons is trivial and pointless.
 

Colin Parkinson

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"Arguing about why it's a better option because of X reasons is trivial and pointless" Without that, the internet would purely be cats and porn. The only thing stopping Canada from buying the F15x is Canada, Boeing would happily sell them to us.
 

Cdn Blackshirt

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Has anyone seen projected F-15EX costs (procurement and hourly operating estimates) so that they could be compared to the F-35?
 

SupersonicMax

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"Arguing about why it's a better option because of X reasons is trivial and pointless" Without that, the internet would purely be cats and porn. The only thing stopping Canada from buying the F15x is Canada, Boeing would happily sell them to us.
To be fair, Boeing decided not to propose the F-15X, not Canada.
 

Colin Parkinson

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More likely Boeing read the RFP and sniffed the political winds and decided it was not worth the effort to get involved with our effed up process with little likelihood of success. The Gulf States have money and simpler process.
 
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