F-15E Strike Eagle flies more hours per month than the F-35

WASHINGTON, US — At the start of the new millennium, Washington has a plan. To have a super modern fighter to meet any threats. This fighter should become the backbone of the US Air Force. Thus was born the most modern, but also the most expensive fighter in entire American history.

F-15E Strike Eagle flies more hours per month than the F-35
Photo by Staff Sgt. Corey Hook

Today, the American dreams of nearly 20 years ago have evaporated. The F-35 Lightning II exists and is part of the US defense. 450 aircraft are in service with the US Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. But the F-35 is not the backbone of US air defenses, nor has it become the primary US fighter jet.

Mrs. Alison Bath of Stars and Stripes writes that today the F-15E Strike Eagle has more flying hours in the air per month than the F-35. I.e. by all accounts, the F-15E is the US’s primary fighter, while the F-35 is hampered by many, many problems.

The data comes from a recent report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. They show how engaged the F-15E is in the air, and how far behind it is the fifth-generation stealth fighter. What’s more – in some indicators, the F-15E is superior to the F-35. The speed, for example – the F-15E flies at twice the speed of the Lightning II.

Bath wrote in his material that according to some, the F-35 will never become the “workhorse” of the US military. it is possible to fill “some niche” and that’s it. Whatever niche it fills, the development of the F-35 is not what was expected nearly two decades ago. High fuel costs, which increase the cost of an hour’s flight. Problems with the F135 engine, which is about to be replaced or renewed. Yes, the engine wears out much faster than expected. This affects the entire acquisition process.

F-15E Strike Eagle flies more hours per month than the F-35
Photo by Airman 1st Class Jose Miguel T. Tamondong

The F-35 turns out to be designed for high-end missions. But how much are they per month? How many missions allow the F-35 to scan enemy and enemy positions, strafe them, or lead a squadron of other aircraft on a mission? The lack of such missions is grounding the F-35 and keeping it more on the ground than it deserves to be.

This brings us to another problem. The longer they are on the ground, the faster their capability declines over time than if the F-35 were much more active in the air. And time does not stop – the F-35 ages twice as fast every day when it is on the ground, in the depot, or in the workshop.

There is another problem that is not talked about, but it is essential. The service staff. The congressional report shows that the people taking care of the F-15E, or even the F-22 Raptor, outnumber those who need to service the needs of the F-35.

Everything is interconnected. All problems and successes affect decisions. Decisions like buying 200 F-15E Strike Eagles while buying fewer F-35s than expected. Yes, this is a Pentagon decision and it is dictated by these very facts.

The Pentagon had the following plan: 1,763 F-35A fighters to fill the US Air Force, 353 F-35B to fill the Marine Corps inventory plus another 67 F-35Cs, and the US Navy to fill its inventory with 273 F-35Cs. Today, these numbers are mind-boggling and many analysts say they will never happen. That is why, they say, the departments are considering other ways to replenish their fleets.

F-15E Strike Eagle flies more hours per month than the F-35
Photo by Master Sgt. Terry L. Blevins

Let’s not forget a new player who clearly wasn’t predicted 20 years ago to develop quickly. Unmanned aerial vehicles are already becoming the main structural basis of fleets.

In addition to drones, something else is also noticeable – the large financing of older aircraft that need to undergo modernization. This percentage is rising sharply every year, and according to some, the main reason is the expensive maintenance of the F-35 in all directions.

Reducing the purchase of the F-35, increasing drone replenishment, and upgrading older aircraft is the door through which the F-15E not only passes but establishes it as the main combat aircraft of American defense. Yes, the F-15 flies more than the F-35, and that trend is unlikely to change.


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