Eagle1

Senior Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
4,596
Reactions
2,379 241 1
The USAF has given the go ahead to a new F15. The most advanced so far. This thread is dedicated to the new multi role bomb truck.



6955
 

Eagle1

Senior Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
4,596
Reactions
2,379 241 1
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.”

 

Eagle1

Senior Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
4,596
Reactions
2,379 241 1
This is the F15 Advanced i.e. F15SA & F15QA. The F15EX will be more advanced than this.

 

Eagle1

Senior Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
4,596
Reactions
2,379 241 1
f15x-advanced-technologies-01.png

F35 style cockpit
 

Eagle1

Senior Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
4,596
Reactions
2,379 241 1
Lockheed F-35 Dinged as Boeing’s F-15X Wins in Air Force’s Plan
By Anthony Capaccio
March 18, 2019,

The U.S. Air Force outlined a five-year plan that showed the extent of the Pentagon’s push to bring back Boeing Co.’s F-15 fighter in an upgraded version, a $7.8 billion investment that would jump from eight of the planes next year to 18 each year through 2024.

While Lockheed Martin Corp.’s newer F-35 would get $37.5 billion over the five years, the more advanced plane would still take a hit. The service now plans to buy 48 F-35s each year from fiscal 2021 through 2023 instead of the 54 previously planned.

A week after President Donald Trump presented his proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins in October, the Air Force spelled out a longer-range five-year plan on Monday that’s sure to set off fierce congressional debate, including over the plan to buy 80 F-15X models and slow the trajectory of the F-35. That debate already has begun.

“As our nation’s only fifth-generation stealth fighter being built today, an investment in additional production and support for the F-35 fighter fleet is critical to ensuring the U.S. maintains air superiority,” five senators said in a letter last month.

The letter to Trump and Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan was signed by Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas, Lisa Murkowski or Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and Marco Rubio of Florida. The F-35 is built in Texas, and some will be based in Alaska.

General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that Pentagon officials decided to buy the F-15X partly because it’s “slightly less expensive for procurement than the F-35, but it’s more than 50 percent cheaper to operate over time and it has twice as many hours in terms of how long it lasts.”

Among other major elements of the Air Force’s five-year plan sent to Congress:
  • Northrop Grumman Corp.’s new B-21 stealth bomber would get $20 billion over the next five years, with funding jumping from $3 billion in 2020 to $5 billion in 2023. Of the $5 billion, $2.3 billion would be for the first year of major procurement.
  • Boeing would get $19 billion through 2024 for purchase of 66 of its KC-46 tankers, fewer than the 75 previously planned through 2023. The new plan calls for 15 in 2021 but 12 each in 2022 and 2023, instead of the 15 previously planned each year.
  • The service plans to spend $12.4 billion through 2024 procuring space systems.
  • Research on the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared early-warning satellite would total $11.4 billion through 2024.
  • Lockheed’s F-22 fighter could see as much as $18 billion in spending for upgrades and support.
  • Air Force spending on setting up and running the new Space Force is budgeted at $363 million through 2024, averaging about $72 million annually.
  • Space investments for fiscal 2020 include $1.67 billion for space launch and ground service agreements pitting Elon Musk’s SpaceX against the United Launch Alliance that’s a joint venture between Lockheed and Boeing; $1.3 billion for Lockheed’s GPS-III satellites and Raytheon Co.’s OCX ground control station program; and $1 billion for satellite communications programs such as the family of “Beyond-Line-of-Sight” terminals.
  • The five-year plan calls for spending as much as $8.7 billion on precision-guided weapons made by Lockheed, Boeing and Raytheon. That includes $1.4 billion on the new Small Diameter Bomb-II that can attack both fixed and moving targets in bad weather, $2 billion for the GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition and $2.2 billion on the extended-range stealth Jassm missile used last year against Syrian military targets.
(Updates with more proposed projects in final two paragraphs.)

 

Eagle1

Senior Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
4,596
Reactions
2,379 241 1
Industrial base considerations played role in F-15X decision
By: Valerie Insinna
March 22

WASHINGTON — When it came time for the U.S. Defense Department to make a decision on which fourth-generation fighter to buy for the Air Force, industrial base considerations — and not acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan — helped tip the scale in favor of Boeing’s F-15X, a senior defense official said Friday.

“There were other things on the table” besides the F-15X, said the official, who disclosed that the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office drove the department’s decision to procure new fourth-gen planes to replace the Air Force’s aging F-15C/Ds.

But when CAPE, the Air Force and former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis finally agreed on the broad decision to more fourth-gen fighters, “the conversation then turned to: How are we going to maintain a robust industrial base?” the official said during a briefing with reporters.

“It really then turned into a conversation of, for the future of the Department of Defense, it’s going to be good to have multiple providers in the tactical aircraft portfolio, and that’s what led our way into the F-15X decision.”

This public acknowledgement of the behind-the-scenes discussions that led to the Air Force’s request for eight F-15Xs in its fiscal 2020 budget comes two days after the Defense Department’s inspector general announced it was investigating Shanahan. The IG is looking into allegations that Shanahan showed favoritism toward his former employer, Boeing, where he was employed for 30 years before being named deputy secretary of defense in 2017.

The Bloomberg report that initially broke the news of the F-15X procurement decision cited one unnamed source who stated that Shanahan influenced the process — something Shanahan has repeatedly denied, saying through his spokesman that he had recused himself from all decisions involving Boeing.

However, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson’s own acknowledgement that the service had not wanted to buy new F-15s continued to raise speculation that Shanahan had played a role.

The defense official speaking to reporters on Friday denied that Shanahan had any knowledge of when Boeing or any of its platforms was being considered during budget deliberations, though Shanahan was aware that discussions were happening broadly about the optimum mix of fifth-generation jets — like the F-35 — and fourth-gen platforms, which can include Boeing’s F-15 as well as Lockheed Martin’s F-16.

“CAPE ran the program budget review” that assessed whether to buy new fourth-gen jets, the official said.

“Working with the standard of conducts office, we put in place a pretty strict regime of keeping anything related to Boeing out of his purview during the program budget review process,” he added. “He was involved in broad capability discussions or broad force shaping discussions, [but] when it came to any specific platform that involved Boeing, those conversations were held strictly away from him.”

So why did CAPE push so strongly for buying additional fourth-generation jets?

The official pointed to two major factors. First was the need for additional capacity.

The average age of the F-15C/D fleet is 35 years, with some aircraft nearing the end of their service lives. FY20 budget documents note “SERIOUS structures risks, wire chafing issues, and obsolete parts” and add that “readiness goals are unachievable due to continuous structural inspections, time-consuming repairs, and on-going modernization efforts.”

CAPE considered accelerating procurement of the F-35, which in FY20 is limited to 48 units. However, its cost analysis — which pegs the cost of each F-15X at about $90 million for the aircraft and spares — found that F-35 operations and maintenance costs outweigh that of fourth-gen planes like the F-15, the official said.

The second argument in favor of buying new fourth-generation planes is that the national defense strategy establishes the need for both stealthy tactical aircraft that can penetrate into a contested zone, as well as planes with large payloads that can launch ordnance from standoff distances, the official said.

Out of the Air Force’s inventory, the F-15 in particular has that as a selling point. Of all the service’s fighters, it can carry the largest payload.

The defense official didn’t go into detail about what alternatives it considered or why it chose the F-15 over the F-16. Instead, he spoke more broadly about the need for industrial diversity in the run-up to the development of a sixth-generation fighter.

“Maintaining a diverse industrial base is in the best interest of the Department of Defense, not just in the [tactical aircraft] portfolio but in basically any other portfolio as well. So the kind of more diversity we can get there, the more competition we have, the better prices we have,” he said.

However, the decision puts pressure on F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin to decrease production and sustainment costs.

Last month at the Air Force Association’s air warfare conference, OJ Sanchez, Lockheed’s vice president for sustainment innovation and operations, said the company was on track for reducing the cost of an F-35A conventional mode to $80 million per jet by 2020, as well as to meet a $25,000-cost per flight hour by 2025.

But Wilson said the company is not making progress quick enough.

“We just don’t think that there has been enough attention on the sustainment costs of the aircraft and driving them down,” she said.

 

WebMaster

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 25, 2014
Messages
1,330
Reactions
1,244 11
Nothing out the ordinary. The F-15SA has pretty much all of what the EX has except I guess the flat-panel glass cockpit, 2 more A/A missile.
 

Eagle1

Senior Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
4,596
Reactions
2,379 241 1

Eagle1

Senior Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
4,596
Reactions
2,379 241 1
F-15EX Eagle Fighter Jet vs. Lockheed's F-35: Let the Showdown Begin
April 22, 2019
by David Axe

A Russian-made S-400 air-defense system could detect an F-35 at 20 miles, Air Force estimated. It could pick up an F-15EX 200 miles away.

The debate continues over the Pentagon’s proposal to buy new F-15EX Eagle fighters from Boeing to complement Lockheed Martin-made F-35 stealth fighters.

As lawmakers weigh the military’s request, Air Force magazine has published an infographic comparing the two fighters.
Both fighters cost roughly $80 million apiece, according to Air Force. But the similarity ends there. The F-35 is stealthier but the F-15 flies higher, farther and faster and carries more weaponry.

A Russian-made S-400 air-defense system could detect an F-35 at 20 miles, Air Force estimated. It could pick up an F-15EX 200 miles away.

While an F-35 can carry 22,000 pounds of munitions to a ceiling of 50,000 feet and a distance of 670 miles at a top speed of Mach 1.6, the F-15EX can haul 29,500 pounds of weapons as high as 60,000 feet and as far as 1,100 miles at a top speed of Mach 2.5.

An F-35 costs $35,000 per hour to operate. An F-15EX costs $27,000 per hour.

The new Eagle’s main advantage, however, is that existing F-15 squadrons quickly and cheaply can convert to the type, Air Force‘s John Tirpak explained.

“The F-15EX, USAF argues, is essentially an in-production aircraft. It has upward of 70-percent parts commonality with the F-15C and E already in USAF service and can use almost all the same ground equipment, hangars, simulators and other support gear as the Eagles now in service,” according to Tirpak.

“At a unit price roughly comparable to that of the F-35, F-15 squadrons could transition to the F-15EX in a matter of weeks, whereas converting pilots, maintainers, facilities and equipment to the F-35 takes many months, the Air Force says.”

The Defense Department compelled the Air Force to request eight F-15EXs as part of the flying branch's 2020 budget request. The eight planes would cost $1.2 billion.

The Air Force reportedly would buy another 136 F-15EXs through the mid-2020s. The new Eagles would replace 1980s-vintage F-15Cs in some or all of the nine squadrons that fly the older type, mostly for patrols over the United States.

The F-15EX boasts better sensors and avionics than the F-15C has and can carry more weapons than the older Eagle can do. Owing to worsening metal fatigue, the old F-15Cs "won't make it to 2030," Air Force major general David Krumm, the service's director of strategic plans and requirements, told Tirpak and fellow Air Force magazine reporter Brian Everstine.

Critics of the F-15EX include some experts as well as lawmakers in districts that heavily depend on Boeing-rival Lockheed. The Air Force for 2020 has asked to purchase 48 stealthy F-35s from Lockheed. That's far short of the 80 to 100 F-35s the Air Force wants to buy every year but says it can’t afford.

Air Force chief of staff Gen. David Goldfein told Defense News that buying F-15EXs would not impact the service's planned acquisition of more than 1,700 F-35s. "They complement each other," Goldfein said. "They each make each other better."

But non-stealthy F-15s are "unable to survive against the threats of biggest concern in our national-defense strategy." David Deptula, a retired Air Force general and former F-15 pilot who is now the dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies in Virginia, wrote in a Feb. 11, 2019 op-ed for Forbes.

“China and Russia are radically advancing their military capabilities that threaten U.S. strategic preeminence,” Deptula added. “There are some in the Department of Defense who are advocating that the Air Force purchase new versions of legacy fighters as a means of achieving cost-efficiency—aircraft that were designed in the 1960s and first started rolling off production lines in the 1970s. Trying to adopt aircraft that belong in museums to warfare in the 21st century is a mistake."

“While the Air Force is adamant that buying F-15EXs will not reduce the requirement to build 1,763 F-35s, history and the Air Force’s own budget request suggests otherwise,” Tirpak noted. “The 2020 budget submission shows the Air Force buying 24 fewer F-35s over the next five years compared to last year’s plan.”

David Axe serves as Defense Editor of the National Interest. He is the author of the graphic novels War Fix, War Is Boring and Machete Squad.


 

Eagle1

Senior Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
4,596
Reactions
2,379 241 1


The New F-15X: This Could Be a Poor Man's F-35 (But Is It a Good Idea?)

April 22, 2019

"Proponents of the F-35 fighter worry that any new F-15X procurement will create a future competition for resources with the previously requested F-35s. Unfortunately, this is bound to spark an unnecessary political battle, as the Air Force is currently committed to purchasing both aircraft."
by Greg Archetto

While this “poor man’s F-35” may serve a niche of being more capable than 4th generation fighters but not quite as stealthy, the Pentagon should be wary of swooning at the courting rituals that captured its heart (and wallet) with the F-35. Very specific targets on timelines, costs, and performance should be outlined in the contracts with penalties for unmet benchmarks.

Necessity is the mother of invention. Such a truism applies to many areas, including warfare. The battlespace is ever-shifting. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) evolution from novelty to ubiquitous tool over the past twenty years stemmed from the realization that it was not cost-effective to use manned fighter aircraft with limited loiter capability to engage multiple small targets over large swaths of Afghanistan or Iraq.

The same shift seems to be occurring within the Pentagon now with the release of the Trump Administration’s 2020 budget requesting an increase in funding for the F-15X fighter jet. Proponents of the F-35 fighter worry that any new F-15X procurement will create a future competition for resources with the previously requested F-35s. Unfortunately, this is bound to spark an unnecessary political battle, as the Air Force is currently committed to purchasing both aircraft.

As a former staffer at the Department of Defense who dealt with procurement issues, I understand the need for some diversity when equipping our armed forces for differing threats. There has always been a tug of war between providing what the Pentagon requests versus what Congress says it needs, mostly because of politics. Armaments production is notoriously peppered throughout many legislative districts so as to exert maximum pressure on fund authorizers and appropriators, many times at the expense of the advice of strategists and operators. That said, while it is difficult to call a $750B defense budget a “resource-constrained environment” with a straight face, such expense falls in line with the current national security strategy (NSS), regardless of how one might feel about its efficacy.

There is an old axiom that states that a camel is a horse designed by committee. I have seen firsthand some of the challenges with the F-35 program with respect to cost, readiness, and capability, and therefore diversification seems prudent. This is not to say that the F-35 should be abandoned, it shouldn’t. But conceptual superiority takes a back seat to immediate real-world utility, and you want to avoid procuring something that will be obsolete by the time it is fielded. Advocates for the F-35 are worried that in future years they will be squeezed by budgetary issues that will pit contracts for F-35s against upgrading the current F-15 fleet with F-15X fighters. Perhaps they should be focused on getting the current F-35s performing as advertised before worrying about future sales.

The F-15X, a new platform drawing heavily from the traditional (and familiar) F-15, theoretically would be more marketable to the international community given the presumably lower threshold with respect to tech release issues and lower cost per flight hour (CPFH). These are two of the biggest issues when attempting to integrate a platform into the U.S. national security strategy while simultaneously trying to lessen the burden of development/integration on the Pentagon by cost sharing with international customers. In fact, Saudi Arabia’s previous purchase of F-15s provides a robust follow-on potential for future upgrades and sales. Israel and Japan also fly the F-15, two partners in volatile regions that would benefit from continued service of the platform in the areas of interoperability, acquisition and cross-servicing capabilities, and of course, the potential for future upgrades and sales.

From an order-of-battle perspective, every military commander would love to have unlimited superior platforms to achieve their objectives with a zero-casualty rate, but that isn’t reality. There are older 4th generation fighters that can perform most of the tasks needed to subdue a conventional adversary, but the complementary approach works best. If the 5th generation F-35s are stealthy and highly survivable but limited in payload and availability, it makes sense to use them as the tip of the spear to knock out the enemy’s most lethal and robust defenses, leaving the bulk of the work to platforms that have years of proven ability and are already accustomed to traditional missions.

The F-15X touts itself as a wholly upgraded version of a reliable, versatile, and familiar platform. What that means to the war-fighter is that “maintenance facilities, hangars and supply chains would not need to be changed, and pilots would only need brief training with new electronics systems; these conversions could take place immediately and without loss of readiness,” says George Landrith of Frontiers of Freedom, an educational foundation promoting strong defense.

While this “poor man’s F-35” may serve a niche of being more capable than 4th generation fighters but not quite as stealthy, the Pentagon should be wary of swooning at the courting rituals that captured its heart (and wallet) with the F-35. Very specific targets on timelines, costs, and performance should be outlined in the contracts with penalties for unmet benchmarks. Our government needs to be reminded that they are stewards of the American people’s money. Every cost-overrun, missed deadline, and unforeseen spec change that unnecessarily bleeds the treasury and lets industry off the hook is not only an affront to the taxpayer, but jeopardizes the safety of our men and women in uniform. That, in the end, is who they are working for.

Greg Archetto was a foreign affairs officer at the Bureau of Political Military Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and a security assistance officer at the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Office of Secretary of Defense. He was also foreign policy advisor to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). He has a BA in Political Science from Rowan University, MA in Public Policy from Rutgers University, and an MA in National Security/Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College.

 

Eagle1

Senior Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
4,596
Reactions
2,379 241 1
APR 23, 2019
Boeing Preps Plant for Likely F-15 Orders
The Air Force submitted a nearly $8 billion budget request last month that included eight F-15s next year and 72 in the following four years.
AUTHORS Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Boeing is preparing to build F-15 fighter planes for the U.S. Air Force at its St. Louis County plant even though the military branch hasn't bought the jet in over a decade.

The Chicago-based company began ramping up its F-15 production line near St. Louis after the Air Force submitted a nearly $8 billion budget request last month that included eight F-15s next year and 72 in the following four years. The request came as a surprise to many since the U.S. military has moved toward stealth fighters, such as Lockheed Martin's F-35, in recent years.

Prat Kumar, Boeing International's vice president, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the company is investing before Congress approves the budget request so it can respond quickly should the Air Force seek rapid field deployment.

Engineers and manufacturing experts recently met at the St. Louis County facility to determine how to efficiently assemble the fighter jet with its modern defense, radar and operating systems.

The first F-15 was first developed in the early 1970s, and foreign orders from Singapore, South Korea and Saudi Arabia have kept the Missouri manufacturing line running in recent years.

"With all the improvements we've done to the F-15 over the years, there's more interest in the F-15," said Andy Stark, manager of F-15 assembly. "We'd rather get ahead of the need versus waiting for the need to happen. So we're doing these studies so that way when the need occurs we've already got the business case and we're ready to pull the trigger."

The line is equipped to build about one F-15 a month, but Boeing officials believe that minimal modifications can increase production to up to three of the jets each month.

Some lawmakers have already expressed concern that the request for F-15s could come at the expense of Boeing's competitor, Lockheed Martin. The Air Force cut its plans to buy F-35s in the recent budget request from 54 to 48 for the fiscal year 2021 through 2023.

Five senators from states where the F-35 is produced, including Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, sent President Donald Trump and Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan a letter before the Air Force detailed its budget request that warned against funding F-15 planes at the expense of F-35s.

Boeing Preps Plant for Likely F-15 Orders | Industrial Equipment News (IEN)
 

Eagle1

Senior Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
4,596
Reactions
2,379 241 1
F-15EX could be delivered as early as 2020: Boeing

  • 15 May, 2019
  • BY: Garrett Reim
  • St Louis

Boeing is ready to deliver at least two engineering, manufacturing and development (EMD) F-15EX fighters to the US Air Force (USAF) as soon as 2020.

The company says the aircraft’s similarities to its Advanced F-15 – a fighter it is producing for Qatar and Saudi Arabia – means it can quickly be turned out from its active production line. The proclamation comes as the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee included $986 million in a draft FY2020 budget for eight F-15EX aircraft to replace aging F-15C/Ds.

The F-15EX is a slightly modified version of the Advanced F-15, which is not in the USAF inventory. The service is interested in the fighter because its $29,000 per flight hour cost is cheaper than the Lockheed Martin F-35. Also, about 70% of the existing spare F-15 inventory already works on the F-15EX and transitioning squadrons to the aircraft would be faster.

Boeing Defense, Space & Security is producing Advanced F-15 aircraft at a rate of 12 per year at its St. Louis, Missouri facility. The airframer says that it plans to wrap up production of Saudi Arabia’s jets in 2019 and then start on Qatar’s order. With its existing backlog of orders, the F-15 programme has three more years of production.

However, the St. Louis F-15 production line has capacity to build as many as 36 aircraft per year, says Boeing.

“We have other things in the pipeline which will keep the pipeline going. So, it’s not an eminent threat of being starved off of orders quite yet,” says Prat Kumar, Boeing’s vice president and programme manager for the F-15. “Many of the countries that have this platform have showed renewed interest.”

Qatar has been approved by the Pentagon for up to 72 aircraft, Israel is looking at buying up to 25 aircraft and the USAF’s total procurement plan over five years is up to 80 aircraft, among other interested parties, he says.

 

Eagle1

Senior Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 17, 2017
Messages
4,596
Reactions
2,379 241 1

F-15EX vs. F-35A
May 2019
John A. Tirpak
Editorial Director


Two jets from different eras, with different missions, strengths, and weaknesses, face off in a battle for today’s funds.


The F-35 Lightning has been the Air Force’s sole new fighter program since 2009, when the F-22 Raptor program was prematurely terminated. While behind schedule, the program has been a top Air Force priority for more than a decade and until recently, was expected to remain USAF’s only fighter program until a future capability, still undefined, comes online.

Now the F-35 faces a new challenge from an old jet design, a variant of the F-15 Strike Eagle; an airplane from an earlier era, built for a different mission. Though the Air Force denies it, the two jets are competing for inevitably limited dollars within the service’s fighter portfolio.

The Air Force’s fiscal 2020 budget request includes $1.1 billion to buy the first eight of a planned 144 F-15EX aircraft. The new airplanes are very similar to the export versions now being built for Qatar. The F-15EX is a two-seat fighter that can be flown by one or two aviators and is meant to replace F-15Cs and Ds that are reaching the end of their service lives.

Under the plan, the Air Force would receive two F-15EX airplanes in 2022, six more in 2023, and a total of 80 airplanes in the next five years. Separately, the 2020 budget request also includes $949 million to upgrade existing F-15s.

Adding new F-15s was not an Air Force idea, but instead came out of the Pentagon’s Cost and Program Evaluation office, or CAPE, and was endorsed by former Defense Secretary James Mattis. While the Air Force’s long-held position has been to invest only in fifth generation fighter technology, it has defended the plan to buy new F-15s as a way to maintain fighter capacity, given the aging of the F-15C fleet and the slow pace of F-35 acquisitions.

While the Air Force is adamant that buying F-15EXs will not reduce the requirement to build 1,763 F-35s, history and the Air Force’s own budget request suggests otherwise. The 2020 budget submission shows the Air Force buying 24 fewer F-35s over the next five years compared to last year’s plan.

An Advanced F-15 during system and flight control testing in Palmdale, Calif. Photo: Boeing

The opening for the F-15EX results from the age and condition of today’s F-15Cs. Designed as air superiority fighters and first fielded in the 1970s, the F-15Cs were planned to have retired by now. But the premature termination of the F-22 after acquiring 186 aircraft—less than half the planned production—compelled the Air Force to extend their service. Now, key structural components are reaching the end of their engineered service life—so much so that many F-15Cs must operate today under significant speed and G-loading restrictions.

The Air Force’s arguments for the F-15EX turn on preserving capacity. The F-15Cs will age out of the inventory faster than new F-35s can come on line, reducing the available fighter fleet at a time when the Air Force argues it’s already seven squadrons short of the 62 officials say they need to meet the National Defense Strategy.

The F-15EX, USAF argues, is essentially an in-production aircraft. It has upward of 70 percent parts commonality with the F-15C and E already in USAF service and can use almost all the same ground equipment, hangars, simulators and other support gear as the Eagles now in service. At a unit price roughly comparable to that of the F-35, F-15 squadrons could transition to the F-15EX in a matter of weeks, whereas converting pilots, maintainers, facilities and equipment to the F-35 takes many months, the Air Force says.

The F-15EX, though, is a fourth generation aircraft which lacks the stealth characteristics and sensor fusion of the F-35 and F-22 and therefore won’t be able to survive against modern air defenses for very much longer. USAF has said that 2028 is probably the latest the jet could conceivably operate close to contested enemy airspace. However, CAPE and Air Force officials see viable continuing missions for the F-15EX in homeland and airbase defense, in maintaining no-fly zones where air defenses are limited or nonexistent, and in delivering standoff munitions.

While the Air Force has maintained since 2001 that it will not buy any “new old” fighters, and that it needs to transition as quickly as possible to an all-5th-gen force, proponents argue that buying F-15s and F-35s concurrently would fill gaps in the fighter fleet more rapidly. Moreover, USAF leaders, defending the new F-15 buy, have said that the F-35 still hasn’t proven it can be maintained at the advertised cost (comparable to the F-16, at about $20,000 per hour) and the service prefers to wait to make large bulk buys of the airplane after the Block 4 version starts rolling off the assembly line in the mid-2020s. This approach, they say, will also avoid spending large amounts of money to update earlier versions of the F-35 to the Block 4 configuration.

An F-35 performs a weapons bay door pass during Demonstration Team training over Luke AFB, Ariz. Photo: SrA. Alexander Cook

This isn’t the first time the Air Force has considered buying new F-15s, but the F-15EX isn’t the same as upgraded models previously offered by the jets’ maker, Boeing. The most recent offerings would have required extensive development work. In 2009, Boeing proposed the F-15 “Silent Eagle,” which would have added stealth characteristics. That jet would have carried weapons internally in conformal stations and featured canted vertical fins and surface treatments to reduce its radar signature. Boeing offered another concept, the “Advanced” F-15, or F-15 2040C, last year. That jet would have had a substantially increased payload and advanced avionics.

Instead, the F-15EX requires almost no new development, would be able to execute a test program very quickly, and requires minimal additional development.

Air Force officials say one potential mission for the F-15EX would be carrying “outsize” munitions, such as hypersonic missiles, and as a possible standoff weapons magazine working in conjunction with the F-22.

The F-35 and F-15EX were designed in different eras for different missions.

The F-15C was designed for air superiority in the pre-stealth era; the F-35 to be the battlefield “quarterback,” gathering vast amounts of information from behind enemy lines while executing stealthy strikes and picking off enemy fighters. Yet, as Congress decides how to invest in future aircraft, comparisons are necessary as the two planes compete for resources. Click here for a side-by-side comparison.


 

WebMaster

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 25, 2014
Messages
1,330
Reactions
1,244 11
Boeing says it expedite delivery to the US air force by 2020 instead of 2022. Wondering how is different from the F-15SA/QA?
 

Top