Controversial US$1.2 billion contract provides for an initial batch of eight aircraft.
The United States Air Force (USAF) confirmed the acquisition of the first batch of the new F-15EX, foreseeing receiving eight aircraft at a cost of US$ 1.2 billion. The first two planes are expected to be delivered in the second quarter of next year, with the remaining six arriving throughout 2023.
The first two aircraft will be sent to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, where they will undergo a series of tests before being declared operational. The contract, formalized last July 13, provides for a wide spectrum of Boeing’s obligations, such as the design, development, integration, manufacture, testing, verification, certification, delivery, maintenance, and modification of F-15EX aircraft, including spare parts, support equipment, technical training, and support manuals.
The USAF also signed a $101.4 million contract with GE Aviation, providing for the purchase of 19 F110-129 engines, 16 of which for new fighter jets and another three as replacement material.
The new F-15EXs is expected to replace in the short term the veteran F-15C/D, produced in the late 1980s, which are at the end of their useful life. The USAF has a budget of US$22.89 billion for the program, with plans to acquire up to 76 aircraft over a five-year period. The budget already approved foresees, in addition to the eight planes, another twelve for the fiscal year 2021. In addition, the air force will be able to increase the total order of the program to up to 144 fighters.
Some critics of the F-15EX claim that the high cost of the project, with each aircraft valued at $80 million, is not justified at a time when the air force is receiving new batches of the F-35A. Veterans F-15, in addition to being a plane designed in the 1970s, does not have stealth technologies, which makes it more vulnerable in combat scenarios foreseen for the coming decades.
The USAF says that the choice rests with the ability of the F-15Ex to enter service immediately, using the existing operational structure and dedicated to the F-15C/D. In addition, it allows the maintenance of the country’s ability to respond quickly to external threats. With the arrival of the new F-35s, the expectation is that future F-15EXs will be relocated to National Air Guard missions, protecting the airspace of the United States, where there is little possibility of the plane facing a force with greater capacity.
The F-15Ex will be delivered in a two-seater (two-seat) version, but the air force plans to operate most missions with just one pilot. The model received a number of improvements, including new software architecture and new mission systems, making the plane more capable than its predecessors.
Source: with agencies