Boeing gives F-15EX new lease of life with EW and weapons upgrade
Boeing has used the first day of the Dubai Airshow 2023 to highlight the capabilities and design of its F-15EX Eagle II fighter jet.
Speaking with media at the show, Rob Novotny, executive director for F-15 business development at Boeing, said that everything is brand new in the F-15EX ‘from the tip to the tale’.
‘We digitally redesigned to forward fuselage and brought that production back to [Boeing's plant in] St. Louis so we’ve applied our full-size determinant assembly (FSDA) technology to [that],’ Novotny said.
According to Boeing, the EX variant of the fighter will feature increased weapons capacity, improved survivability and a more modern software infrastructure, alongside a very advanced electronic warfare (EW) capability, that will make the fighter very desirable to customers.
‘Every single customer that currently flies an F-15 is interested in long-term modernisation plans and potential new builds, Novotny said. ‘Our EW system…is going to change the discussion about what it means to operate in the enemy air defence sector.
‘For years, we’ve thought about operating inside enemy air defences based on shapes and material coating,’ he remarked.
Novotny noted that while most platforms would not be able to operate within enemy air defences without some level of EW, the F-15EX’s will have an adaptive EW system that could change as fast, if not faster, than the threat it would face.
As reported by Defense News, Boeing recently missed the delivery deadline of the first US Air Force’s (USAF) third Eagle II, but Novotny said the service would receive it later this month. The production of the fourth jet has also been completed and will follow the third in delivery.
The pair of F-15EXs from Boeing constitutes the first production under lot 1B, succeeding the two lot 1A test aircraft handed over to the USAF in early-2021.
‘We have four jets that are on the fight ramp, and we should deliver them this year still,’ Novotny said. ‘The USAF has awarded Lot 2, 3 and 4, as well as advanced procurement for Lot 5. So we see a long production run out into 2027–28 already contracted by the USAF.’
Novotny noted that the production rate of the F-15EX was currently at one and a half units per month, but Boeing expected to accelerate that to two units per month by 2025.
The flyaway cost for the F-15EX has been valued at approximately US$90 million for each aircraft in the USAF programme’s second production lot.
Potential F-15EX customers
Indonesia signed an MOU with Boeing in August to move towards the purchase of 24 F-15EX and the company said it was ‘in negotiations now to get started [and] move that contract forward’.
Without divulging any details or progress made on the negotiations, Boeing mentioned that it has also pitched the jet to Poland, which could acquire 32 platforms.
‘There’s probably nobody more cognisant [than Poland] of the need for a national defence asset that can go and do homeland defence,’ Novotny said. ‘[One] that can immediately respond to threats that are potentially on their border, and, at the same time if they were to be invited to participate in a conflict they know they can bring so much to the battlefield.’
In January, Israel formally requested 25 F-15EX fighters from the US. Novotny mentioned, however, that Boeing has been refraining from discussions with the country’s MoD due to the ongoing situation, alluding to the conflict that erupted between Israel and Gaza on October 7.
Mark Sears, VP and programme manager for the Boeing Fighters Air Dominance Program, told Shephard that international customers were expected to be able acquire the fighter at comparable prices to those disclosed for the USAF.
The current market environment and inflationary pressure, however, could change this in the future. Sears said that Boeing was doing ‘its best’ to control costs through affordability measures inside and outside the company.
Some countries also require a certain degree of social value contribution when it comes to acquisitions programmes and the F-15EX will be unlikely to be different. When questioned about this, Sears said that Boeing was looking at how to partner with local industry when it comes to international campaigns, both from a manufacturing and platform sustainment perspective.
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