Boeing replacing outdated F-15C fleet with newer and cheaper models
Boeing’s new incarnation of the venerable F-15 will be padding the ranks of high-dollar aircraft such as the F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor- and they won’t cost the US Air Force and arm and a leg to do so.
New reports reveal that the new Boeing F-15X will come in two variants and are not an attempt by Boeing to disrupt Lockheed Martin’s F-35 rollout, but are instead going to replace 30-plus-year-old F-15Cs and F-15Ds currently in service.
“We’ve got to refresh the F-15C fleet because I can’t afford to not have that capacity to do the job and the missions.” Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein explained in January. “That’s what this is all about. If we’re refreshing the F-15C fleet, as we’re building up the F-35 fleet, this is not about any kind of a trade.”
According to The Drive, sources close to the acquisition claim the new “Super Eagles” will cost the US Air Force “less than an F-35 is ever forecast to cost, best case,” and that much of the costs that would otherwise be incurred are nonexistent, thanks to research and development paid for by other countries interested in “close, but not as awesome” export variants.
While F-35s and F-22s are stealthy, the very nature of what makes them stealthy also limits their armament capacity and other capabilities that might come in handy when confronting near-peer “swarm” adversaries such as China and Russia.
The F-15Xs would effectively work in tandem with the F-35s and F-22s, allowing the latter aircraft to quietly do data gathering and “aerial wetwork” while the Super Eagles bring the pain from “Beyond Visual Range,” complete with a complement of 22 air-to-air missiles per aircraft and the signature 20mm vulcan cannon for those close-in engagements.
The loadout makes the Super Eagle a serious force to be reckoned with in the BVR fight, as well as a serious dent in the Chinese doctrine of anti-access and area denial (A2/D2). Add the fact that stealth might soon be obsolete with the development of new radars, and the Air Force soon realizes it has a trump card that’s worth playing in such a scenario.
With a per-flight-hour operating cost nearly $10,000 cheaper than the F-22, the F-15X creates a lucrative and creative solution for the USAF’s aging fleet, despite the groans from Air Force brass who want as many expensive new toys as possible.
The Super Eagles also come with new sensors, radar and other “under the hood” accouterments that make it deadly in a fight, despite being built on a fourth-generation chassis. With a single and two-seat lineup, the new birds will be equally suited for both air superiority and Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (known as SEAD or “Wild Weasel”) missions, wreaking havoc in air and on land.
Built for a 20,000-flight hour life span and brand-spanking-new off the line, the F-15Xs bring a bit of old school and new technology to a modern battlespace and look damn good doing it. As the old adage goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
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