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F-15X

The Israeli Air Force once planned for the F-35 Adir to be the last manned fighter aircraft flown by Israeli pilots, but by mid-2018 a looming agreement between Boeing and Tel Aviv indicated to some that the IAF had ditched these plans to buy updated F-15s. The IAF chief of staff, Israel's defense minister and the director general of Israel's Defense Ministry must review the IAF's report on the matter before a decision on whether to formally strike a deal with Boeing was made.

Support for purchasing the Israel Advanced F-15s already existed within the Israeli defense establishment, but that was unlikely to keep powerful lobbies in Washington and Israel from seeking to influence the decision. Notably, there had been talks about the possibility of buying additional F-35s from Lockheed Martin as a way to appease the Maryland-based company in the event Israel does get back into business with Boeing, especially since the "IA F-15" will be equipped with some stealth characteristics.

Reports surfaced indicating that Boeing also wanted to sell the US Air Force new "F-15X" aircraft, Defense One reported July 18. The Drive disputed Defense One's report, arguing July 26 that it was the US Air Force pressing Boeing on developing the mysterious plane — indeed, The Drive reports that USAF has pushed for it over the last 18 months, but talks have been held in closely guarded secrecy. Like the IA F-15, the F-15X is touted as both completely new and derived from the time-tested F-15 airframe.

The F-15X "would need to be non-disruptive to the larger F-35 procurement initiative. If anything else, it had to be seen as complementary to the F-35, not as an alternative to it," the Drive noted, citing sources familiar with the matter. The F-35 may not become the "one-size-fits-all" jet the Air Force once hoped, The Drive report says, a fact that was evidently not lost on service officials.

The War ZOne reports that "sources describe the aircraft as a single seat variant of the latest F-15 advanced Strike Eagle derivative—the F-15QA destined for Qatar—but it will also integrate many of the features and upgrades that the USAF intends (or intended as it may be) to include on its nearly four-decade-old F-15C/D fleet. And no, the aircraft is not a repackaging of the semi-stealthy F-15 Silent Eagle concept that Boeing floated nearly a decade ago. The F-15X features no low-observable enhancements of any kind. " According to Defense One, the new variant offers more modern flight controls, cockpit displays, and radar. Defense News reports that Boeing is quietly proposing, a new version of the world-famous F-15 Eagle, that combines an updated airframe with an unprecedented number of anti-air missiles. With the help of the company's new AMBER missile carrying racks, the F-15X will be able to carry a whopping 22 air-to-air missiles during a single sortie. Alternatively, it could fly with eight air-to-air missiles and 28 Small Diameter Bombs (SDBs), or up to seven 2,000lb bombs and eight air-to-air missiles.

A multiple advanced missile and bomb ejector rack carriage system employs a carriage mountable to an air to ground (AG) bomb release unit (BRU) on an aircraft pylon. A single MIL-STD-1760 electrical interface is integral to the carriage and has a first power connection and first signal connection. Onboard carriage avionics are supported within the carriage and connected to the MIL-STD-1760 electrical interface. The onboard carriage avionics are adapted to receive communications from an aircraft central computer through the first power connection and first signal connection and provide store specific communications independent of specific original aircraft wiring to at least one ejector and store.

General David Goldfein, US Air Force Chief of Staff, confirmed the service branch is exploring new F-15 purchases, Defense News reported 04 February 2019. Notably, Goldfein said money for the F-15 program would not drain funds from the budget to buy more F-35s. This point echoed comments made by Lockheed Martin chief executive officer Marillyn Hewson during an earnings call last Thursday, where she said,"If they choose to have an order of the F-15, it won't be at the expense of F-35 quantities. I'm hearing that directly from leadership in the Pentagon…It's not just our suspicion, but I've been told that directly."

Adding more the upgraded F-15X, which features advanced avionics and a greater weapons payload, is likely to raise eyebrows in Washington. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan was a defense contractor nearly his entire adult life for Boeing before joining the Trump administration. Shanahan worked on Boeing's rotorcraft programs, which brought the Pentagon the Apache and Chinook helicopters, and helped develop the V-22 Osprey during three decades with the company.

On 02 January 2019, Shanahan recused himself from all Pentagon dealings involving Boeing. A report by Bloomberg in December 2018 stated that the Defense Department's idea is to procure 12 F-15X aircraft for $1.2 billion. US President Donald Trump had said there are many people interested in becoming the next permanent secretary, though it may be too early to count Shanahan out the race. The White House saw Shanahan as participating in an extended audition for the permanent role, the Wall Street Journal reported 03 February 2019.

The U.S. Air Force on 12 March 2019 unveiled the budget request for fiscal 2020 that included plans to buy eight new F-15EX fighter aircraft to replace ageing F-15C/D fleet as part of a purchase of 144 total aircraft over an undisclosed number of years. According to the budget request, it will cost $80 million per airframe, but that cost will rise to about $125 million for each of the eight jets “to set up the line” and account for non-recurring engineering costs in the first year of procurement. Total deal will be worth more than $1.1 billion and covers production of eight new F-15EX fourth-plus generation fighters.

Is expected that the F-15EX flight hour is also set to be affordable, coming in at “well below” the F-35A. The newest Eagle would cost about $27,000 per hour to fly—again, well below the $45,000 an hour to fly the F-35A. Finally, According to the current information, the F-15EX will have a whopping 20,000-hour service life, enabling it to serve for decades. By comparison, the original F-15 was built to serve only 5,000 hours.

The Eagle first flew in July 1972, and entered service in 1976 and is expected to be in service with the US Air Force past 2025. Newer models are still being produced for foreign users and the F-15 production line is set to end in 2019, according to published reports.

In December 2018 Bloomberg reported that Shanahan had pressured the US Air Force to buy Boeing F-15X jets; even though the air force said it was not interested in the aircraft. Before coming to the Defence Department, Shanahan — an engineer by training — worked for Boeing for 31 years on the civil aviation side. He had signed an ethics agreement recusing himself from decisions involving Boeing. On 13 March 2019, independent watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics requested an investigation based on a January 2019 report from Politico claiming that Shanahan, while he was deputy defence secretary, disparaged Lockheed Martin in Defence Department meetings, and held up Boeing as an example, the report said.

“The Department of Defence Office of Inspector General [IG] has decided to investigate complaints we recently received that Acting Secretary Patrick Shanahan allegedly took actions to promote his former employer, Boeing, and disparage its competitors, allegedly in violation of ethics rules", Defence Department Inspector General spokesperson Dwrena Allen said, as quoted in a report by Politico.

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Page last modified: 01-07-2021 17:55:30 ZULU