The U.S. government’s contract opportunities hub announced the U.S. Air Force’s intent to procure both upgraded Boeing-made F-15EX fighters and fresh General Electric F110-129 jet engines associated with the new aircraft. In July 2018, it was reported that the U.S. Air Force and Boeing have been discussing a proposed F-15EX, a single-seat F-15E variant based on the F-15QA that would replace F-15C/Ds in U.S. Air Force service. In the Budget released on 12 March 2019, the Department of Defense requested US$1.1 billion to procure eight F-15EX fighters of a total planned procurement of 144 F-15EXs.
The F-15EX Fighter is the most cost-effective, ready, advanced solution to meet U.S. Air Force capacity requirements and add capability to the fleet. The F-15EX purchase was an initiative of the Pentagon’s Cost Analysis and Program Evaluation shop, which said the Air Force could more rapidly refresh its fighter fleet by purchasing new examples of the F-15, even as it buys the stealthy F-35 fighter. The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II remains their top priority, and will only buy the F-15EX if additional funds are provided that don’t require reducing the F-35 buy. The acquisition of the F-15EX is specifically intended as “a refresh to the F-15C/D fleet and to augment the F-15E fleet. A contract is anticipated in May.
The new airplanes would have a substantially more powerful mission computer, new cockpit displays, a digital backbone, and the Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS) an electronic warfare and threat identification system. The F-15EX configuration is impressive as it includes a flat-panel glass cockpit, JHMCS II helmet mounted display (HMD), revised internal wing structure, fly-by-wire controls, APG-82 AESA radar, activation of outer wing stations one and nine, advanced mission computer, low-profile heads-up display, updated radio and satellite communications, the highly advanced Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS) electronic warfare and electronic surveillance suite, Legion Pod-mounted infrared search and track system (IRST) and the list goes on.
With the help of the company’s new Advanced Missile and Bomb Ejection Rack (AMBER) missile carrying racks, the F-15X will be able to carry a whopping 22 air-to-air missiles during a single sortie. Alternatively, it could fly with eight air-to-air missiles and 28 Small Diameter Bombs (SDBs), or up to seven 2,000 lb bombs and eight air-to-air missiles. We are talking crazy weapons hauling capabilities here. Keep in mind that the F-15C/D Eagle can carry eight air-to-air missiles currently, and the penultimate Eagle variant that is currently being built, the F-15SA, can carry a dozen.