According to defensenews, on 2 February 2021, the F-15EX made its maiden flight, marking a milestone allowing the company to deliver its first two planes to the US Air Force by the end of March
The latest F-15EX variant of the F-15 Eagle family, which is more than four decades old, has been a controversial topic in the media and in Washington in the mid-2018. Some sources revealed that the Department of Defense plans to purchase 144 twin-engine aircraft from Boeing.
Finally, in July 2020, the US Department of Defense approved a proposal allowing the Air Force to buy eight F-15EXs for a total value of $1.2 billion. The US Air Force is expected to buy 136 more F-15EXs.
According to Mr. Prat Kumar, Owing to worsening metal fatigue, the old F-15Cs won’t make it to 2030. The new jets will be equipped with more sensitive sensors, better avionics and can carry more weapons than the F-15C.
The F-15EX is believed to be based on the F-15QA variant developed for Qatar. Compared with the F-15C, F-15EX has the same structure about 80 to 90%. Improvements includes the AMBER weapons rack to carry up to 22 air-to-air missiles, infrared search and track, advanced avionics and electronics warfare equipment, AESA radar, and revised structure with a service life of 20,000 hours.
F-15EX differs from its predecessor by advanced monitoring and detection tools that provide all-round visibility in several spectra. Under the nose fairing is a modern radar with AFAR. Airborne assets can be used both for target detection and in conjunction with a defense complex. The cabin equipment has been radically updated, simplifying the work of the pilot.
New GE F110 engines maintain high flight performance while increasing payload. The latter has been increased from 10.4 to 13.4 tons.
The F-15EX is still the king of the sky
Before that, the US Air Force had offered to buy 48 F-35 stealth fighters from Lockheed Martin Corporation. This number is still unable to meet the Air Force’s need to own between 80 and 100 F-35s. However, due to limited funding, the number of F-35s required has been reduced.
According to some Defense Department officials, operating the new F-15 Eagle will be cheaper than the F-35. The new Eagles can use existing military bases and support equipment. Furthermore, F-15C pilots can switch to F-15EX within 6 months. While for the F-35, it takes pilots 18 months to 3 years. The purchase of the new F-15EXs will help keep the F-15 squadron on the front lines for decades to come, and it won’t take long for them to get used to the new version.