Aerial Warfare

First Operational Boeing F-15EX Eagle II Delivered to Portland Air National Guard Base

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First Operational Boeing F-15EX Eagle II Delivered to Portland Air National Guard Base

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First Operational Boeing F-15EX Eagle II Delivered to Portland Air National Guard Base
First Operational Boeing F-15EX Eagle II Delivered to Portland Air National Guard Base

The first operational Boeing F-15EX Eagle II, serial #008, touched down at the Portland Air National Guard Base on June 6. This delivery marks a historic moment as it is the first time an all-new weapon system has been assigned to the Air Guard before being integrated into the Active-Duty force. The new aircraft is the first of 18 F-15EX jets destined for the 142nd Wing of the Oregon Air National Guard, with an additional 13 scheduled to arrive within the next year, followed by four more in subsequent years. This influx of advanced aircraft necessitates significant military construction to support their arrival, replacing the older F-15C/D models currently in use at the base. The newly delivered jet, flown directly from Boeing’s production facilities in St. Louis, Missouri, sports a distinctive stylized Eagle tail flash unique to the 142nd Wing.

Boeing, the manufacturer of the F-15EX, has confirmed that Aircraft #007 is already painted and undergoing final checks, with its delivery expected within the next two weeks. This delivery aligns with Boeing’s commitment to meet its contractual obligations, despite the F-15EX program being approximately a year behind schedule. Previously, the delivered F-15EXs have been utilized in a combined Developmental/Initial Operational Test and Evaluation program, with Phase 1—including participation in 19 exercises—completed last fall. The current focus is on accelerating the operational readiness of these advanced jets.

The first operational Boeing F-15EX Eagle II (serial #008) touches down at Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore., on June 6.
The first operational Boeing F-15EX Eagle II (serial #008) touches down at Portland Air National Guard Base, Oregon, on June 6. (Photo by U.S. Air Force 142nd Wing)

The F-15EX program, initially set to produce 144 aircraft, is now projected to cap at 98 units according to the Air Force’s fiscal 2025 budget request. However, there is potential for this number to increase as lawmakers, concerned about the declining fighter inventory, may push for additional F-15EXs in the 2025 budget. The F-15EX is now embraced by the Air Force as a crucial complement to the stealthy fifth-generation fighter. The transition from F-15C/Ds to F-15EXs is notably swift, typically taking only a few months, compared to the two years required for the F-35. This rapid integration is facilitated by the similar handling characteristics and the compatibility of ground equipment between the F-15C/D and F-15EX, easing the transition for Eagle pilots.

The F-15EX boasts several enhancements over its predecessors, including new engines, additional sensors, a more powerful processor, a new glass cockpit, and extra weapon stations under each wing. The aircraft’s fly-by-wire controls and advanced displays significantly improve its operational capabilities. Despite not being a stealth aircraft and costing approximately the same as an F-35 at around $80-$90 million per plane, the F-15EX is equipped with the Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS), enhancing its survivability in contested airspace. One notable advantage of the F-15EX is its ability to carry oversized munitions that do not fit in the F-35’s internal weapons bay, including anticipated hypersonic missiles.

The first operational Boeing F-15EX Eagle II (serial #008) taxis at Portland Air National Guard Base, Oregon, on June 6.
The first operational Boeing F-15EX Eagle II (serial #008) taxis at Portland Air National Guard Base, Oregon, on June 6. (Photo by U.S. Air Force 142nd Wing)

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