The US Air Force has awarded a nearly US$1.2 billion contract for its first lot of eight F-15EX fighter aircraft.
The contract, awarded to Boeing, provides for the design, development, integration, manufacturing, test, verification, certification, delivery, sustainment and modification of F-15EX aircraft, including spares, support equipment, training materials, technical data and technical support.
The first eight F-15EX aircraft will be fielded at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, to support testing efforts. The delivery of the first two aircraft is scheduled for the second quarter of 2021. The remaining six aircraft are scheduled to deliver in FY23.
The F-15EX will replace the oldest F-15C/Ds in the US Air Force’s inventory. Eight F-15EX aircraft were approved in the 2020 budget and 12 were requested in the 2021 budget. The Air Force plans to purchase a total of 76 F-15EX aircraft over the five-year Future Years Defense Program.
General Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command said, “The F-15EX is the most affordable and immediate way to refresh the capacity and update the capabilities provided by our aging F-15C/D fleets. The F-15EX is ready to fight as soon as it comes off the line.”
“When delivered, we expect bases currently operating the F-15 to transition to the new EX platform in a matter of months versus years.”
The F-15EX is a two-seat fighter with US-only capabilities and features a deep magazine that can carry more weapons than any other fighter in its class, and can launch hypersonic weapons up to 22ft long and weighing up to 7,000 lbs.
The platform also requires minimal transitional training or additional manpower and little to no infrastructure changes, ensuring the continuation of the mission.
The most significant difference between the F-15EX and legacy F-15s is its Open Mission Systems (OMS) architecture. The OMS architecture enables the rapid insertion of the latest aircraft technologies. The F-15EX will also have fly-by-wire flight controls, a new electronic warfare system, advanced cockpit systems, and the latest mission systems and software capabilities available for legacy F-15s.
“The F-15EX’s digital backbone, open mission systems, and generous payload capacity fit well with our vision for future net-enabled warfare,” said Dr Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics. “Continually upgrading systems, and how they share data across the Joint Force, is critical for defeating advanced threats. F-15EX is designed to evolve from day one.