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Russia: the F-15EX gives US completely different capabilities

MOSCOW, (BM) – The USAF successfully tested a prototype of the deeply modernized F-15EX fighter in the USA. The event is significant for the American defense industry – the last “fifteenth” entered the army almost 20 years ago. The Pentagon is counting on the updated aircraft and assures that this program will not affect fifth-generation aircraft procurement. What do we know about the F-15EX? A material of the Russian media RIA Novosti has translated by our editors.

New old plane

A prototype of a new modification of the veteran fighter, which entered service back in 1976, took off in early February from an airbase in Missouri. The flight lasted 90 minutes and did not cause any complaints. At the end of March, the US Air Force will receive two vehicles of this type for further testing, and in total, the Pentagon intends to order about 200 F-15EXs until 2030. Delivery of serial fighters to the Air Force expects from 2023. The program will cost $ 23 billion.

“The successful maiden flight proved that the aircraft is safe and ready to join the country’s air fleet,” Boeing Vice President Prat Kumar told reporters. “In the F-15EX, we have implemented the latest advances in combat control systems, sensors, weapons, and onboard electronics. This aircraft is entirely new, significantly different from previous versions of the F-15. “

The upgraded vehicle is a further development of the F-15E Strike Eagle two-seat fighter-bomber. They are designed to conquer air superiority and strike ground targets. They have modern avionics based on the concept of “digital highway” and Open Mission Systems architecture, allowing you to introduce advanced technologies into the design quickly.

The aircraft will receive a powerful electronic warfare system, an improved cockpit, a Raytheon AN / APG-82 series radar with an active phased antenna array. The new GE F110 engines deliver superior flight performance with increased payload. We know that the carrying capacity has increased from 10.4 to 13.4 tons. The F-15EX fighter plans to take on board up to 22 guided air-to-air missiles or three-ton hypersonic missiles with a length of almost seven meters.

Overtake hypersound

The Pentagon is trying to provide sufficiently antique vehicles to destroy targets covered by modern air defense systems effectively. In the United States, three air-launched hypersonic missiles are being developed – under the Tactical Boost Glide (TBG), Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC), and Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) projects. These products will go into series no earlier than 2024-2025.

“The F-15EX is the most advanced version of the F-15. Unrivaled range, price, and best-in-class payload make this aircraft very attractive to the US Air Force,” said Program Manager Laurie Schneider. “The F-15EX carries more weapons than any other. a fighter of this category, including all promising missiles in development.”

The US decided to manufacture fourth-generation aircraft two years ago. F-15 fighters did not supply to the Air Force since 2001, and lighter F-16s since 2004. The Pentagon expected to focus on the more modern and technologically advanced F-35 Lightning. But the fifth-generation invisible program is still stalled: the fighter still suffers from many “childhood illnesses,” and its price is continuously growing. It turned out that it was too early to send the veterans to retirement.

The United States Air Force and National Guard currently have about 230 F-15C and F-15D fighters during the Cold War. Their service life will finally expire in 2030. The Pentagon has 219 more modern F-15Es, but they are inferior in performance, for example, to Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers and Su-35 fighters. The first to receive the F-15EX will be National Guard pilots who only fly the outdated F-15C and F-15D.

“The Silent Eagle”

This step isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to breathe new life into the F-15. At the end of the 2000s, Boeing presented a prototype demonstrator of the F-15SE Silent Eagle fighter. American designers have tried to bring the obsolete aircraft to the fifth-generation plane. The “Silent Eagle” was supposed to become less noticeable in the air: the aircraft widely used radio-absorbing materials in the design, the weapons were located inside the fuselage, as on the F-35 and F-22, the keels had changed.

In the vehicle’s modified compartments, the designers simultaneously placed missiles for different purposes: air-to-ground and air-to-air. The fighter could carry two AIM-120 AMRAAM guided missiles, two JDAM corrected bombs, or four JDAMS. Internal suspensions withstood up to 450 kilograms of ammunition. Boeing provided the aircraft with a fundamentally new electronic warfare complex, a modern digital control system.

Boeing mainly prepared the “Quiet Eagle” for export. The $ 100 million price tag was thought to make it an attractive commodity. The Americans offered the fighter to Israel, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and South Korea, already familiar with the F-15. However, they preferred the more modern F-35s. Therefore, the program was closed, having built only one prototype of the F-15SE.

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