F15-EX Overview, Specification, Performance | Page 3 | World Defense

F15-EX Overview, Specification, Performance

chachag

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ooooooooooooooooooooooo man I just love the look of this Bird ,,,,,, beautiful ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
 

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Would be nice if you would take the effort and post the whole OP, instead of just the links.

Thanks!
to be honest, I am not quite sure how to do that, but will give it a try.

F-15EX: THE STRATEGIC BLIND SPOT IN THE AIR FORCE’S FIGHTER DEBATE
MIKE BENITEZ
JUNE 3, 2019
COMMENTARY

The fallout from the U.S. Air Force’s request to buy F-15EX fighter jets to replace the aging F-15C/D Eagle has certainly been entertaining. Largely driven by lobbyist influence mixed with self-interest, a number of lawmakers and retired generals reflexively viewed the proposal to buy 144 F-15EXs as a threat to the 80-year 1,763 F-35A program. They predictably advocate that buying more F-35As — not F-15EXs — is the solution to replace the deteriorating F-15C/D fleet, whose shortcomings are inherent to operating a 35-year old fighter that averages 8,300 flight hours but was originally designed to fly just 4,000 hours. This camp’s message is that the F-15EX is an outdated fighter from the 1960s, equipped with decades old technology, is not survivable, not effective, is of little operational relevance, does not support the National Defense Strategy, and is more expensive than the only U.S. Air Force fighter currently in production — the F-35.
Brad Orgeron’s recent article explored four options that would sustain the fighter air superiority fleet over the next 20 years by detailing possible procurement combinations of three aircraft —F-15C, F-15EX, and F-35A. His research provided a much-needed objective and analytical voice to a conversation that has become overwhelmingly subjective and emotional. Building on that, I hope to offer yet a different perspective, and one that he may not agree with. Spoiler: The F-15EX and F-35A are both needed, but not in the way the debate has been framed and not in a way most defense professionals have been conditioned to think. To understand this requires the conversation begin with strategy — something that many voices in the debate appear to have overlooked.
Strategic Competition in Action, or Inaction?
Since the U.S. National Defense Strategy called for “the reemergence of long-term strategic competition,” strategic competition has become another well-worn buzzword referenced in speeches, statements, interviews, and congressional hearings. Despite some form of “competition” being mentioned over 60 times in the 2017 U.S. National Security Strategy and 2018 National Defense Strategy there is still no definitionwithin the Department of Defense to unify words, thought, and action.
That said, traditionally military leaders, strategists, and planners are culturally ingrained to think about how to win if deterrence fails, mirroring the western view of warfare in absolute terms — victory or defeat; war or peace. People with this mental framework risk misinterpreting strategic competition as an arms race to build a gold-plated fighting force that sufficiently deters an adversary and can ensure an expeditious victory if deterrence fails. But that’s not accurate.
In the 1980s, the idea of competitive strategies became popular in corporate America and the concept of strategic competition emerged in both the C-suite and the E-ring. In this context, the idea is best described as a methodology to disrupt target markets in precise ways that generate deliberate competitive shifts. The goal is to dissuade competitors in certain geographic, technical, and ideological areas and push them towards ones that better align with U.S. interests over the long term. Like a business jockeying for market share, competition is perpetual and infinite, a series of ever-shifting temporary states of winning and losing — not victory or defeat.
Viewed through a military lens, strategic competition should continually produce a range of variables that can be mixed and matched to produce exponentially more capabilities that provides a unique versatility to commanders that can be used to complicate a competitor’s situation. This should sound familiar, as it’s the marketing pitch for today’s multi-domain operations.
The realized strategy (the end) rarely matches the intended strategy (the beginning) because a strategy can — and should — evolve over time. The Mintzberg model acknowledges that the realized strategy is actually a combination of both deliberate and emergent strategies. As a strategy is executed, various smaller emergent strategies are coupled and decoupled to the long-term deliberate strategy as new opportunities present themselves.
What does this have to do with the F-15EX and F-35A? The F-35A represents the deliberate part of the strategy, while the F-15EX represents the emergent part. F-35A may be the generational foundation for the Air Force’s fighter force structure strategy through the 2070s, but the way it is traditionally envisioned for use has little to do with the emerging framework of strategic competition (note China and Russia have been developing stealth-negating weapons systems for 20 years). However, coupling the F-35A with other rapidly-fielded force structure opportunities like the F-15EX enables the Air Force to engage very effectively in strategic competition. This is how it’s possible to remain committed to the F-35A while also supporting the F-15EX. In other words, this is how both sides are right.
Now, how both sides are wrong. Just because the F-15EX has the potential to engage in strategic competition doesn’t mean it’s happening. Defense officials have indicated that the rationale for buying the fighter is based on a number-crunching cost efficiency business case, while Air Force officials have cautiously noted the F-15EX is meant to complement the F-35 across the spectrum of conflict and would serve as a capacity and readiness backstop for traditional F-15C/D missions. This is the predicable, boring company line. Procuring new F-15EXs, even with its impressive 12 air-to-air missile magazine, to perform traditional forward defense forward base defense and protection of high-value airborne assetshas nothing to do with strategic competition — but neither does simply buying more F-35As for this purpose.
The litmus test for strategic competition is simple: Will an adversary care about this, and if so, why? In the end, if China or Russia doesn’t care which platform Congress chooses to replace the aging F-15C/D fleet with, neither should the warfighters. It simply becomes a decision grounded in politics, emotion, and parochial interest — not strategy or national defense. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. The F-15EX — currently both maligned by backers of the F-35A and misunderstood by the Air Force officials buying it — has all the potential to be the disruptive force in strategic competition that the Air Force sorely needs, albeit in a dramatically different fashion than anyone has been discussing.
This mentality first requires that we stop thinking in terms of labels like “fighters” and “fourth generation” and instead view a platform for its attributes and potential — the F-15 is not the aircraft you think it is.
Not Your Father’s F-15
Originating as the U.S. response to the Soviet Union’s Mach 3 MiG-25 interceptor, the Mach 2.5 F-15 was built around a massive radar and sized to carry large long-range counter-air missiles. Beyond its large size (20 percent larger than the F-35), it was engineered before the advent of computers and digital fly-by-wire systems. Because of this, the F-15 has an aeronautically stable design that current fly-by-wire fighters do not have. Most importantly, these attributes have permitted it to evolve. Today’s F-15 is not a Nixon-era fighter anymore than the F-35 is an early 1990s fighter.

Figure 1. Some of the dozens of configurations the F-15E has used in combat. During Operation Inherent Resolve it carried everything ranging from eight AIM-120s to seven 2,000 lb GBU-31 JDAMs. (Image: Author.)
Once lauded as a fighter with “not a pound for air-to-ground,” the original light gray F-15C/D Eagle air superiority fighter evolved into the dual-seat dark gray multirole F-15E Strike Eagle that has been a staple of virtually every U.S. Air Force combat operation since 1991. The F-15E serves as the basic model for the F-15I, F-15K, F-15S, F-15SA, and F-15SG export variants and is what the F-15EX improves on. The F-15E’s size and reinforced structure trade some of traditional fighters’ speed and maneuverability to gain the best range, payload, and capacity for sensors of any fighter in the U.S. inventory. Not only can it employ virtually every weapon in the U.S. and coalition inventory, it’s also comically versatile in terms of the combinations of configurations that can be flown. The same attributes also make the F-15 the workhorse for testing and fielding of new weapons, sensors, and emerging capabilities that eventually make it onto other fighters like the F-22 and F-35.

Figure 2. One side of Boeing’s F-15E testbed showcasing its expanded wing station with an AGM-88 High Speed Radiation Missile, Taurus KEPD 350 cruise missile, three GBU-54 Laser JDAMs, eight Small Diameter Bombs — along with a 2,000 lb. GBU-31 JDAM on centerline and conformal fuel tanks. (Image: Boeing/Military Tech via Youtube.)
The modern F-15E shows how neatly compartmentalizing fighters into “generations” can be misleading and subconsciously shape our perceptions. Consider the fifth-generation F-35’s much-lauded sensor fusion. This is enabled by computing power, software, sensors, and algorithms; all items with high potential to scale to other platforms — and they have. Despite the hype, the reality is that almost all current fighters have had some form of sensor fusion for the better part of a decade. In fact, the newest, largest, and most capable radar and the highest computing power on a U.S. aircraft aren’t on a fifth-generation fighter — they’re on the F-15E.
In the time I’ve flown the F-15E I’ve seen it progress through seven major operational software updates (called suites) and various hardware upgrades, each more integrated and potent than the last. When the next software upgrade arrives it will have even more sensors and hardware. In fact, the only limitation keeping it from achieving sensor fusion on par with the F-35 is its cockpit displays. As an example of how sequestration and funding instability drive incoherent budget choices, nearly $12 billion in aforementioned F-15E sensor upgrades are still stubbornly pushed through 1980s displays that use cathode-ray tubes to produce low-quality analog video that aren’t even all color, let alone digital, touchscreen, or high-resolution. The impressive F-35 cockpit has all of this, and that makes all the difference. The F-15EX enhanced cockpit displays mirror the newest displays coming to both F/A-18 Block III and F-35 Block 4, mostly because they are all made by the same company.

Figure 3. F-15 cockpit over time. Cockpit displays are the limiting factor in achieving full sensor fusion. (Image: Boeing/Author/U.S. Air Force.)
The F-15 shows how targeted hardware and software investments unlock capabilities that blur the lines between generations of fighters. Capabilities alone do not comprise a strategy, though. It’s all about how those capabilities are applied.
Adaption, Not Innovation
At this point, the F-15EX naysayers often contend that even the most advanced fourth-generation fighters won’t be able to operate in future contested environments, that they are “incapable of participating against peer threats” — some have even gone as far as calling the idea of buying the F-15EX a moral issue. A think tank analysis best summarizes this camp’s flawed logic: “It is hard to imagine any high-end scenario where [these] fighters will be able to operate.”
Recall that strategic competition is largely about generating disruption. Broadly speaking, disruption typically happens in two ways. At one end is innovation, which military leadership has been endlessly calling for. This is reflected in the surge of research and development funding to explore promising new technology that takes many years to mature and manifest (if ever). At the other end is adaption, where users of equipment find new ways to use combinations of what is available. Where the former is slow, bureaucratic, and well-funded, the latter is exactly the opposite.

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Adaption, not innovation, is the compelling variable in rapidly linking emergent strategies with deliberate strategies in strategic competition. Operators live in a world where the hope of innovation is not an option — we go to war with what we have. We adapt by embracing industriousness, ingenuity, and creativity to generate advantages on the battlefield and in the sky — we call this being tactical. Applying this mentality strategically would get the Air Force off the beaten path to find more rapid and disruptive ways to economically compete. Stop thinking about the F-15EX as a fighter and start viewing it as an adaptable platform.

Figure 4. On Sept. 13, 1985 an F-15A launched an ASM-135 anti-satellite missile from a 65-degree climb at 38,100 feet. Traveling at 11,000 mph, the missile intercepted a 17,000 mph orbiting satellite 345 miles above Earth. (Image: U.S. Air Force.)
Though the F-15 airframe was designed to be solely an air superiority fighter, it has been used to shoot down satellites, fly to 100,000 feet, manually pilot rocket-powered precision bombs onto targets before GPS, employ stealth cruise missiles, shoot over-the-horizon anti-ship missiles, simultaneously employ multiple 5,000 lb. bunker busters, and fly 800 miles per hour just 100 feet above the ground, at night, in the weather — on autopilot. It’s even been turned into a thrust vectoring Mach 2 NASA flight test vehicle capable of taking off at just 42 mph and landing on less than 1,700 feet of runway. None of these uses were a product of the F-15’s original capabilities. Rather, they came from adaption, which was in turn built off knowledge gained from hundreds of thousands of flight hours and decades of flight science research with a platform with enabling attributes.

Figure 5. F-15 Fuel and Sensor Tactical (FAST) Pack usage concepts from the late 1970s provide a reminder of creativity possibilities. The weapons prototype FAST Pack evolved to become the Conformal Fuel Tanks used today. (Image: Public Domain.)
Earlier this year, Air Force officials caught the attention of defense media when they mentioned that the F-15EX could potentially be used as a hypersonics launch platform. Fighter-launched hypersonic weapons are an interesting example of creating a new disruptive effect via adaption. Similarly, the defense world took notice when Russia announced that MiG-31 fighters had already launched a dozen hypersonic weapons in testing. Using F-15s to launch hypersonic weapons is not hard, mostly because it’s not new. In 2002 DARPA’s HyFly program sought to launch a 400-mile Mach 6 hypersonic from an F-15E, and in 2007 NASA used an F-15B as a Mach 5 hypersonic research test bed. To compete in this realm, the Air Force should publicly declare ambitious tests on compressed timelines to not only launch one of the emerging hypersonic weapons from an F-15, but also produce a timeline for full fleet integration.

Figure 6. Top: An F-15E takes off with DARPA’s Mach 6 HyFly prototype, circa 2005. Ultimately, scramjet issues prevented it from getting past Mach 3 (Image: LX3 Corp.). Bottom: NASA F-15B outfitted with a modified AIM-54 during the Mach 5 Phoenix Missile Hypersonic Testbed program, circa 2007 (Image: NASA).
Another ingenious example of adaption comes from the Israeli Air Force, which has used the F-15 to launch medium-range air-launched ballistic missiles as test targets for over a decade. The largest is the Silver Sparrow, a 27-foot long, 6,900 lb. missile that has an apogee 90 miles high (for perspective, space starts at 62 miles). Though it’s already proven on the F-15, there is nothing remotely comparable in the U.S. inventory today. The closest attempt was the nuclear-tipped GAM-87 Skybolt, which was cancelled in the 1960s. Incorporated in a package alongside current stand-off capabilities, fighters equipped with air-launched ballistic missiles could introduce a wildly disruptive and asymmetric problem for Chinese and Russian air defenses.

Figure 7. An Israeli F-15D with a mid-sized Blue Sparrow air-launched medium range ballistic missile target used to test Arrow missile defense system. (Image: Rafael.)
The Pacific offers numerous maritime opportunities for adaption. While some F-15 variants already perform anti-ship warfare with stand-off data-link weapons, fighters haven’t performed torpedo bombing since World War II. Given the proliferation of naval threats, F-15EXs equipped with winged aerial torpedoes could dynamically target submarines in contested airspace where the only air-launched torpedo platform — the Navy P-8 Poseidon — can’t operate. Similarly, F-15EXs could be outfitted with precision-guided winged naval mines to perform aerial mining in areas deemed too risky for the defenseless B-52. This is competing via adaption.
Opening the aperture of imagination even further, the F-15EX could be used to launch flying missile rails that can “mine airspace” to autonomously maintain pockets of air superiority to enable other missions — like Tony Stark’s Iron Legion freeing the Avengers to tackle other priorities. Or perhaps it could be used for delivering long endurance cluster drones or employing swarms-on-demand to provide much-needed range, reach, and loiter that promising new tactical air control concepts lack. Maybe it’s deploying and controlling unmanned teammates via the missionized rear cockpit, or being an air-launched decoy/jammer truck, or delivering stand-off non-kinetic weapons, or being a mothership for attributable penetrating electric attack platforms, or being an agile foundation for launch-on-demandsatellite constellations that are responsive and unpredictable. Now imagine all of these concepts not launched from a vulnerable base or a runway — but from a highway, enabled by the budding combat support wing initiative. This is what strategic competition looks like.

Figure 8. An F-15SA during flight test configured with 12 CBU-105 cluster bombs, eight AIM-120 missiles, terrain following radar, forward-looking infrared, and targeting pods, conformal fuel tanks, and external tanks totaling 30,000 lb. of fuel. Inset, disposable 10-hour loiter Remedy drone that fits inside repurposed cluster bomb canisters. (Image: Northrop Grumman.)
Finally, for perspective on adaption, look at the venerable B-52 Stratofortress. When it entered service in 1952, no one could have imagined a bomber would be used to shoot nuclear cruise missiles, deliver stand-off precision-guided naval mines, put satellites into orbit, launch a Mach 9 hypersonic vehicle, or serve as a flight test bed for NASA. Thanks to its sheer mass and rugged design, it can accommodate the size, weight, and power considerations of emerging technology and will remain relevant for 100 years of operations — stealth not required. If you think this sounds a lot like F-15EX, you’re right.
These ideas provide a glimpse of new ways to embrace adaption to deliver effects that enable — rather than inhibit — other platforms, all while subscribing to the warfighting principles of mass, maneuver, economy of force, security, and simplicity. Updating a common phrase that originated from an airpower zealot a century ago: Flexibility, agility, and versatility are the key to airpower.
Option 5
So where does that leave the aging F-15C/D fleet, the reason this is even a conversation? The aforementioned War on the Rocks article articulated four options and concludes that an optimal solution likely includes a mix of F-15EX and F-35A to replace the F-15C. However, viewing the problem through a different lens, I offer a fifth option for consideration. To reap a strategic return on investment, the best and most disruptive option is to replace the F-15C with a combination of repurposed F-15Es, upgraded F-16s, F-35As, and a homeland defense fighter derivative of the T-X platform — while simultaneously putting the F-15EX where it can better support the National Defense Strategy.
First, the Air Force should accelerate the next-generation trainer jet development to spin off a low-cost homeland defense fighter derivative and prioritize conversion to select F-15C/D Air National Guard units that primarily exist to protect the homeland. Concurrently, procure F-15EX as fast as possible for a two-move shuffle. As F-15EXs roll off the production line, send them to current F-15E units to leverage the multi-role two-crew manpower construct already in place. This capitalizes on the capabilities of the multi-role two-seat F-15EX and permits acceleration of concepts that contribute to the National Defense Strategy. As new F-15EXs arrive, current healthy F-15Es would be sent to replace the oldest F-15Cs. Stripped of features unnecessary for a pure air-to-air role, F-15Es would be a marked improvement over current F-15Cs. They would get a modern communication and navigation suite, an updated cockpit, better sensor integration, integrated Sniper pod, optional conformal fuel tanks, and a fully funded Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System that the current F-15C fleet lacks.

Figure 9. Boeing F-15E outfitted with AMBER rack prototypes on lower weapon stations. With no other changes, this rack would expand current F-15E missile capacity from eight to 14 AIM-120s. Because it connects via standard bomb attachment lugs, the rack should also easily fit the F-35A inboard wing stations to double its missile capacity for non-stealth air defense missions. (Image: U.S. Air Force.)
The estimated $3.4 billion saved by not funding this electronic warfare system in retiring F-15Cs could be put towards rapidly procuring the Advanced Missile and Bomb Ejection Rack (AMBER) rack system for air-to-air F-15Es and upgraded front cockpit displays. With no other changes, the AMBER rack would increase missile capacity to 14 missiles (see Figure 9). As not all counter-air missions require stealth, the AMBER rack also provides a valuable tool to increase the air-to-air magazine for F-35As that would replace another portion of the F-15C/D fleet. Finally, as F-35A production continues to replace F-16s as planned, a portion of these F-16s should be outfitted with AMBER racks and shifted to replace a final segment of F-15Cs. This move aligns with current Air National Guard efforts, as the Air Force is already upgrading a portion of its F-16 fleet with advanced radars to fill critical homeland defense shortfalls.
As a final nod to disruption, adaption, and strategic competition, the Air Force should seek alternatives that contribute to gaining and maintaining pockets of air superiority that do not involve fighter aircraftand that can be showcased to the competition — the much lauded multi-domain approach.
Looking Forward
Regardless of how the Pentagon arrived at this juncture, there is an important choice ahead. While Congress appears to be at least somewhat supportive of F-15EX procurement, the global environment demands we think in a new way. The F-15EX has all the potential to be the disruptive force in strategic competition that the Air Force sorely needs, albeit in a dramatically different fashion than anyone has been discussing.
The urgency in war is often lost during times of peace. In a world of long-term, ever-shifting competition with our adversaries watching, are they likely to take notice if we pursue more of the same following the same predicable routine? Or will something genuinely disruptive — a novel, adaptive re-envisioning of an important platform’s capabilities — give them pause?
 

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Delayed Spending Bill Could Hurt F-15EX, Major Fighter Jet Upgrades
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F-15EX concept art (via Boeing)

F-15EX concept art (via Boeing)
6 Nov 2019
Military.com | By Oriana Pawlyk
Many Air Force programs -- including the new F-15EX fighter, enhanced F-22 Raptor sensors, maintenance modifications to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and an effort to build a surplus of precision-guided missiles and bombs -- are under immediate threat if Congress fails to pass a formal appropriations bill soon, according to the service's top general.
If the temporary spending bill, known as a continuing resolution or CR, is prolonged by as little as six months, the impasse will negatively affect roughly 145 projects that are already in development or slated to be awarded soon, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said Wednesday.

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"It's truly damaging," he said during an Air Force Association breakfast in Washington, D.C., providing a document to attendees. Air Force Magazine was first to report on the list of endangered projects last month.
The Air Force has crunched the numbers: If Congress freezes funding at last year's levels for six months, programs like the F-15EX -- currently estimated at $1.1 billion for development and production -- will take a hit.
Related: B-52 Bomber Upgrade on Track Despite Continuing Resolution, Air Force Says
This "may negatively impact Boeing's aggressive pricing," according to the document, citing the plane's manufacturer. "[This] also means operating and sustaining aging F-15C [Eagle] fleet longer than planned, incurring added extensive maintenance actions due to structural health issues."
The Air Force would also have to forgo buying an additional 1,000 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) tail kits, 99 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and 665 Small Diameter Bomb II munitions. And it would have to postpone correcting F-35ALightning II blade seal composite parts, among other deficiencies, currently affecting 31% of the fleet and reducing readiness rates.
Should the CR extend for a year, concerns grow dire, Goldfein said.
According to the list, the Air Force would need to withhold $466 million in sustainment and modernization funding for natural disaster recovery efforts at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, and Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, as well as emergency funding the service expects to receive in the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.
And the service's pilot shortage could grow if $123 million is cut from undergraduate flight training, the document states.
"Reductions would cut contractor instructor pilots, keep the new maintenance training center from opening, and delay trainer fleet maintenance," it says.
Many programs would eventually become untenable due to budget constraints, Goldfein said.
He explained that Air Force officials often give a stringent timetable for defense companies producing weapons and equipment and must be as transparent as possible with them, given that the CR could stifle an upcoming production or delivery.
"I have to go to them and say, 'Hey, I don't know exactly how many of these weapons I'm going to buy from you this year because I can't do any new start [projects]. And I know if I ever get the money, I'm going to buy this amount of weapons, so I want you to keep this very sophisticated workforce with high-level security clearances … and I only have six months to get a year's worth of munitions, so I need you to be ready,'' Goldfein said.
It's a daunting task that most companies turn away from. Or they might increase the price on the next batch of equipment to meet the demand, the general said.
Based on discussions he's had with Pentagon leadership and lawmakers, Goldfein said fiscal 2021 may be one of the last budgets to give the military the funding surplus it needs to continue rebuilding after sequestration and plan for future operations.
Goldfein said he's working with acquisition officials to set the "right foundation" for the future no matter what budget the service ends up with. It isn't necessarily about buying more equipment for the sake of stocking up inventories, but making its use worthwhile, he said.
"[The budget] may go flat after that or it may start coming down," Goldfein said. "So how do you achieve irreversible momentum if you have only one good year left? [We need] to set this foundation."
 

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JUST IN: Boeing Says F-15EX Initiative Progressing Despite Budget Impasse
11/22/2019
By Jon Harper

Image: Boeing rendering of a digital model of an F-15

ST. LOUIS — Boeing’s plans to deliver the first two test aircraft for the F-15EX fighter program by the end of next year are still on track, despite the budget gridlock on Capitol Hill, according to a company executive.

Congress has yet to pass a defense appropriations bill for fiscal year 2020, and the Pentagon and other federal agencies have been operating under a continuing resolution since Oct. 1. CRs are problematic for the Defense Department because they inhibit new-start programs such as the F-15EX.

The Air Force plans to buy 80 of the jets over the next five years, and eventually procure a total of 144 aircraft.

“We'd love to get them on contract and that can't happen unless the [appropriations] bill is authorized by the Congress,” Prat Kumar, vice president for F-15 programs at Boeing Defense, Space and Security, said Nov. 18 during a briefing with a small group of reporters at the company’s St. Louis facilities. “For now, we are leaning in and it's safe to say that right now we are progressing because the company has stepped forward and made some investment into this program ahead of the CR … and us getting on the contract.”

Kumar’s comments came just days before Congress, as expected, passed another continuing resolution to keep the government funded at fiscal year 2019 levels through Dec. 20.

“If that extends for too much longer then it starts putting a lot of pressure on us” to be able to meet the test jet delivery goal, he said.

The company hopes to sign a contract in the March timeframe. Kumar said it could deliver two test jets to the Air Force within nine months of getting on contract.

Boeing is leveraging billions of dollars in investment that has already been made by the Pentagon and foreign customers in many of the technologies that will be integrated into the F-15EX platform.

The EX will be a significantly upgraded variant of Boeing’s F-15. It will include: an advanced cockpit system with a large area display; enhanced aerodynamics via fly-by-wire controls and 9g performance; increased survivability with a fully integrated electronic warfare suite and an active electronically scanned array radar; increased lethality and multi-role flexibility with 12 air-to-air and 15 air-to-ground weapon stations; and advanced mission systems such as the advanced display core processor II and operational flight program suite 9.1X, according to a presentation by Lori Schneider, Boeing’s F-15EX program manager.

“EX is really a true integration program where we're leveraging a hot production line from [previous F-15E orders by] Qatar and then bringing in all the modernization elements that the Air Force has been investing in” for its aircraft fleet, she said.

Schneider noted that the platform will have open mission systems that will enable new technology to be integrated as it evolves.

“The first jet that rolls off the line will be as fully capable as the last jet” when system upgrades are made, she said.

The Air Force is developing new air-launched hypersonic weapons that will be able to fly at speeds of Mach 5 or faster and be highly maneuverable against enemy air defenses.

“F-15EX will be a great tool to deliver those weapons in the future,” Kumar said. “The payload [capacity] is just enormous, so you can hang a lot of heavy load weapons like future hypersonics with this jet.”

Boeing is also leveraging digital modeling and advanced manufacturing techniques to improve the way its aircraft are constructed. For the F-15, the company is pursuing what it calls a digital airframe.

“It's leveraging the [digital] model-based engineering capability and applying that incrementally throughout the platform,” Schneider explained.

The technology is already being employed in the construction of new F-15 wings, nose barrels and forward-center fuselages. It has led to a dramatic reduction in both the footprint required to build the parts as well as the number of people involved, while also improving quality, Kumar said. For the wings, it has enabled a 50 percent footprint reduction and a 70 percent reduction in manpower, he said.

Plans call for using the technology to also build the forward fuselage and later the aft-center fuselage and aft fuselage.

“By the time we are done through this journey, we'll have a completely digital airframe [that is] much more manufacturable, affordable, higher quality — and it enables us to insert technology much more rapidly in this jet because you don't have to re-engineer any of the bays as much as you needed to do before,” Kumar said.

Meanwhile, Boeing is positioning itself to get on contract for the F-15EX as soon as possible once Congress passes a budget for fiscal year 2020. After the budget is passed, the Air Force is expected to issue a request for proposal that Boeing will respond to before the funds will be released. That will entail a lot of paperwork.

“We've been working very closely and collaboratively with the Air Force throughout really the spring, summer and fall … so when the final RFP releases we're pretty much ready to go,” Schneider said. The company has been communicating with acquisition officials regarding requirements, statements of work, tasking and other issues, she added.

Key congressional committees and subcommittees that oversee defense spending have included funding for the F-15EX in their fiscal year 2020 appropriations and authorization bills, which have yet to be passed. But nothing is guaranteed at this point, Kumar noted.

“We feel very optimistic they'll stay in the budget,” he said. “But until [the bill and contract are] signed, you know there's always risk.”
 

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JUST IN: Boeing Says F-15EX Initiative Progressing Despite Budget Impasse
Not sure why not letting other countries get involved to ease budget issue. At least to the operators. Saudi Arabia ToTed some f-15 components and some others are produced locally under licence. We can help.:D
 

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F-15EX: Careful What You Don't Ask For
April 2019
John A. Tirpak
Editorial Director


In this Boeing concept image, two advanced F-15s show off heavy weapons loads. Illustration: Boeing

While it was an open secret for months that the Air Force’s fiscal year 2020 budget request would include some brand-new F-15s, one of the surprise revelations at AFA’s 2019 Air Warfare Symposium was that those new Eagles weren’t the Air Force’s idea.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, at a Feb. 28 press conference, admitted that while new “F-15EXs” are in the budget—later revealed to be eight airplanes for $1.1 billion, as a down payment on an eventual 144 aircraft—someone else at DOD inserted them in USAF’s budget to help the service address its inadequate fighter force structure.

“Our budget proposal that we initially submitted … did not include additional fourth-generation aircraft,” she acknowledged.

Washington wags initially suggested the F-15 was injected into the Air Force budget by Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who had a 30-year career with Boeing, maker of the F-15. Shanahan has recused himself from matters involving Boeing, however, and dismissed the idea that he is shilling for the company as “just noise.” Nevertheless, Boeing has received a disproportionate share of major defense contracts in the last six months, including the T-X trainer, UH-1N helicopter replacement program, and the MQ-25 Navy aerial tanker drone.

At the rollout of the 2020 defense budget request, however, Pentagon Comptroller Elaine A. McCusker revealed that it was former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis who ordered the Air Force to buy new Eagles.

Creating a “balance between the fourth and fifth-generation aircraft… [was] a decision that was made by Secretary Mattis before he left,” she said, noting that he had paid a lot of attention to “our cost calculus” in the field of tactical aviation.

Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee a few days later the “framework” for the decision came from a study of the future needs of the military’s tactical aircraft fleet, which showed the Air Force has a shortage in its number of aircraft and the amount of ordnance those aircraft could carry.

When combined with the fact the F-15C will age out in the 2027-28 time frame, Dunford said “the best solution” was to go with the F-15EX to “backfill” the F-15 fleet.

The EX-variant initially would only be “slightly” cheaper to buy than a new F-35, but it will be more than 50 percent cheaper than the Joint Strike Fighter to operate over its life, Dunford said.

More of the calculus was explained by Maj. Gen. David A. Krumm, USAF’s Director of Strategic Plans and Requirements, who told Air Force Magazine the thinking behind the controversial add of Eagles. Essentially, he said, the National Defense Strategy demands more combat capacity immediately, or as soon as possible. And while buying more F-35s is the Air Force’s preferred solution, the F-15EX move could put more iron on the ramp more quickly; mostly because the transition time for individual units would take months rather than years.
“Cost of ownership,” is the key factor in the F-15EX’s favor, Krumm said.

“There’s 80-90 percent commonality” between the F-15C and the F-15EX, Krumm said, noting that the new aircraft can use all the aerospace ground equipment now used for the C-model of the Eagle.

“That’s all already in the inventory,” he said, but the similarity of aircraft also means “we’re looking at a transition time of months—less than six months”—to transition units now flying the C-model to the EX. “Typically, [with] an Active unit, that [process] takes 18 months; with the Guard, it takes three years.” He went on to say that “If you average that out, Active and Guard, each time we do that we save about two years of readiness,” meaning aircraft available for combat, “And that’s important for us.”

He insisted, though, that USAF is “committed to the F-35, and I think we’ve outlined that in the budget.”

Krumm, in a brief interview following a speech at AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, said the F-35 “is a game-changer” and “we won’t take one dime” out of 5th gen capability—nor will the F-15EX “take anything away from NGAD,” or Next-Generation Air Dominance, the future family of systems that will complement and/or replace the F-22 and F-35.

Brand-new F-15EXs will have strong bones and could last a long time—Krumm said 20,000 hours—meaning it could potentially serve well into the 2040s or 50s.

The Air Force has said the F-15 won’t be survivable against modern air defenses after 2028, so is it worth it to the service to spend the money to keep a non-stealthy, 1970s design into the 2040s?

“I think what we know is that we’re going to be fighting with 4th gen [aircraft] in 2028, and in 2035, we’re still going to have those,” he said. “The way to use these things is to collaborate on a network, and it’s going to be, what can those things bring to the fight faster?”
For example, the new Eagle could be a launch platform for “standoff weapons, hypersonics. … They can go a long ways to assist the penetrating forces,” he said.

Air Force leaders have said they are seeking an early, interim hypersonics capability, and having F-15s that are not speed-limited due to their age (as current aircraft are) could be helpful in that pursuit. The F-15 design is technically capable of exceeding Mach 3, and so could accelerate a hypersonic missile close to its Mach 5-plus operating regime. That, in turn, would permit smaller booster rockets for weapons such as the Tactical Boost Glide hypersonic concept. The F-35, which was never designed to be USAF’s high-end dogfighter, has a top speed of Mach 1.6, and the first generation of hypersonic missiles is unlikely to fit inside its weapons bay.

“This is all about making the best use of the resources we’ve been given and building the best Air Force that we can,” Krumm said. The F-15EX is “what we came up with. … We will find a way to make this the best we can. We have to, anyway, and this is a capacity we think we need.”

MORE MISSIONS FOR THE T-X, AFTER ALL
Another programmatic bombshell from the Air Warfare Symposium came when Air Combat Command chief Gen. James “Mike’ Holmes said he’s put his staff to work looking at other USAF applications for the recently selected Boeing-Saab T-X advanced trainer, which will replace the T-38.

Throughout the T-X competition, the Air Force denied it was contemplating any other role for the new trainer and that the jet’s potential application to any other missions filled by the T-38—companion trainer, Aggressor, lead-in-fighter, etc.—were excluded. There was no credit given, for example, if a candidate aircraft already had designed-in wing hardpoints or wiring for weapons, as the Lockheed Martin T-50A did.

“We worked hard on making the requirements for the T-X,” Holmes explained in an Orlando press conference. “They were focused on the training mission. … We guarded that requirement because we wanted to hold the cost down and make it affordable, and we wanted to stick with just [those] requirements.”

Now, though, Holmes said, the Air Force can “start talking about maybe some potential other uses for the airframe.” He added “We’re very happy with the solution that we got for the T-X. … We came in with significant savings below what was estimated.”

The change is potentially huge for Boeing-Saab, which have a contract to build some 350 T-X aircraft for the Air Force, and which, according to Wilson, was bid at some $10 billion below USAF estimates. The Air Force has used scores of T-38s in roles other than as an advanced trainer, potentially increasing the USAF T-X buy by a similar magnitude.

Holmes said, “You could imagine a version of the airplane that could be equipped as a light fighter,” a reference to the Light Attack experiment in which the service put commercial turboprops through their paces for use in undefended airspace in notional counterinsurgency or counter-terror missions. Goldfein has since said the experiment has been re-scoped to also look at small jets, helicopters, and remotely piloted aircraft. The Air Force has said it could buy as few as 80 light attack aircraft for Special Operations Command, or as many as 300 or more if the type was included as part of the broader fleet. The service has said it wants to use the plane as a platform on which to “partner” with allied air forces that lack sophisticated fighters like F-35s or F-16s.

AGGRESSORS AND SECOND CHANCES
Holmes also specifically wondered whether the T-X would be useful as an “adversary training aircraft.” Every time a USAF combat jet is spared from having to act as a training enemy, “that’s one more sortie we can use” for combat training.

He also noted that Boeing “has been out to some of the international fairs and talking to our partner nations about what they might offer.”
Using the T-X offers the advantage of economies of scale, since adapting an aircraft already in the inventory in large numbers will make it “cheaper to operate those airplanes and sustain [them] for a long time.” He also said that Boeing’s T-X bid touted their new manufacturing abilities that will make it possible to build the T-X “faster and cheaper,” potentially getting them fielded more rapidly.

Whether any of this comes to pass, Holmes said, “will depend on a lot of things. It’ll depend on where the budget goes over the next few years. It’ll depend on the experiment that we’ll continue to do in the light-attack area,” which he noted is now open to a jet aircraft. The Air Force has maintained throughout its discussions of a new light attack aircraft that such a mission would be additive to the current combat fleet and can’t be considered as a substitute for any of it.

Holmes tempered his comments, though, by noting that the T-X isn’t the only jet that could be considered for light attack.

“An airplane like that, and like the competitors … who competed in the T-X category” would also be candidates, he said. “We don’t have any conclusions,” but any aircraft of a similar size “and cost per flying hour and capability is something that I think we should definitely look at as we go forward with the experiment,” Holmes asserted.

He also cautioned that anything the Air Force cooks up will have to pass muster with the allies originally envisioned as using this approach.
“One of the primary components of anything we’re going to look at … is going to be how our partners feel about it,” said Holmes. But as far as adapting the T-X to other missions, “those are the things that you’d expect us to look at.”

What a missile truck it is.... Could you negotiate 4-5 pieces for PAF ? |0| |0| §§•
 

TomCat

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Not sure why not letting other countries get involved to ease budget issue. At least to the operators. Saudi Arabia ToTed some f-15 components and some others are produced locally under licence. We can help.:D
Habibi, you have to ask them for it, like kids ask for toys repeatedly. ;)
 

Falcon29

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Not sure why not letting other countries get involved to ease budget issue. At least to the operators. Saudi Arabia ToTed some f-15 components and some others are produced locally under licence. We can help.:D
Saudi Arabia doesn't need them, F15SA is potent and efficient, but Boeing is trying to get more funding approved by the Congress.
 

mtime7

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Not sure why not letting other countries get involved to ease budget issue. At least to the operators. Saudi Arabia ToTed some f-15 components and some others are produced locally under licence. We can help.:D
I am sure other countries will put orders in once the US has sunk some money in, not sure if all the tech will be able to be transferred though, my understanding is that they are adding tech that is currently unavailable for export models.
 

mtime7

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Hopefully EPAWSS will be ready

Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS)




Cutting edge of fighter aviation

The Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System provides the U.S. Air Force F-15 fleet with advanced electronic warfare technology to maximize mission effectiveness and survivability.
With more than 60 years of electronic warfare experience and 10,000 tactical systems produced, BAE Systems remains unsurpassed across the electromagnetic spectrum. Currently flying systems on more than a dozen platforms worldwide, it is the world leader in electronic warfare, providing the warfighter with end-to-end capabilities to counter current and emerging threats.
BAE Systems’ EPAWSS builds on this historic heritage, modernizing the F-15 with an advanced electronic warfare solution for the U.S. Air Force, protecting the aircraft by maximizing mission effectiveness and survivability.
Providing both offensive and defensive electronic warfare options for the pilot and aircraft, EPAWSS offers fully integrated radar warning, geo-location, situational awareness, and self-protection solutions to detect and defeat surface and airborne threats in signal-dense contested and highly contested environments. Equipped with advanced electronic countermeasures, it enables deeper penetration against modern integrated air defense systems, providing rapid response capabilities to protect the aircrew.
An all-digital system, it requires a smaller footprint than previous systems, allowing it to seamlessly integrate new capabilities and remain current. A platform-level solution, it provides the F-15 with improved reliability and maintainability, helping reduce long term life cycle costs to keep the aircraft fielded now and into the future.
EPAWSS continues BAE Systems’ effort to provide the F-15 fleets of U.S. and allied nations with the most advanced aviation capabilities on the market. The foundation for that effort was set in 2008, when its Digital Electronic Warfare System (DEWS) became the first new U.S.-developed electronic warfare system to be installed on the platform in several decades. Since then, BAE Systems has agreed to supply DEWS for new advanced and modified F-15 aircraft.
 

Lieutenant

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I am sure other countries will put orders in once the US has sunk some money in, not sure if all the tech will be able to be transferred though, my understanding is that they are adding tech that is currently unavailable for export models.
Like what? I really can't think of any. They will add some sensors here and there that's all. Maybe fit in a new radar.
 

mtime7

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definitely getting a new radar, I think the export model comes with APG63v3. Ya, new sensors and I would guess sensor fusion, new electronic warfare suite, new data links, probably some new weapons capabilities, I don't think there will be anything new, just integration of what is currently available or will be available, they claim it will be scaleable so the first one that rolls off can be upgraded to the final version, and hopefully some lowering of RCS in the frontal aspect, but I doubt it.
 
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Scorpion

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definitely getting a new radar, I think the export model comes with APG63v3. Ya, new sensors and I would guess sensor fusion, new electronic warfare suite, new data links, probably some new weapons capabilities, I don't think there will be anything new, just integration of what is currently available or will be available, they claim it will be scaleable so the first one that rolls off can be upgraded to the final version, and hopefully some lowering of RCS in the frontal aspect, but I doubt it.
Really looking forward what is going to be introduced.
 

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