DN - Defence Notes

Boeing promotes more striking Eagle

18th May 2017 - 10:05 GMT | by Damian Kemp in Seattle

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Boeing believes it has prospects and contracts for its F-15 Strike Eagle aircraft up until at least 2019 and likely beyond 2022.

The company has deliveries ongoing for Saudi Arabia, which has ordered 84 aircraft, as well as an undisclosed customer and, according to a company official, is about to sign another contract with an unnamed operator, believed to be Qatar, for up to 72 aircraft.

Over the last seven years the company has carried out major improvements to the original variant which has meant, according to officials, taking the life of the aircraft from 9,000 flight hours to 20,000 flight hours.

A key part of its effort to keep the aircraft relevant has been an investment of $5 billion by the company and suppliers over the past ten years.

Part of the programme has been the Advanced Missile Bomb Ejector Rack (AMBER) and the company is in negotiations to take the system into final flight tests.

AMBER is designed to broaden and simplify the F-15’s multirole function. In the escort role AMBER carries 16 AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile, four AIM-9X short-range air-to-air and surface-to-air missile and two AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) tactical, air-to-surface missiles.

For precision strike, the aircraft carries 16 Small Diameter Bombs, one Joint Direct Attack Munition Extended Range, two HARM and 2 600 US gallon fuel tanks. For counter sea it carries two Harpoon over-the-horizon, anti-ship missile, two Miniature Air-Launched Decoy, eight AIM-120, two AIM-9X and two HARM.

Boeing is carrying out an upgrade of legacy F-15 aircraft to extend life and raise capability with an improved processor and weapons outfit.

Over the last ten years, with South Korea and other customers, the company has improved aircraft to keep it relevant including adding APG-63 AESA radar and in the future the APG-82 and joint helmet mounted cueing systems.

The latest generation aircraft will be fitted with new generation IRST, Digital Electronic Warfare System (DEWS), improved GE engine and Sniper targeting pod. The company conducted a competition of IRST systems in April-May and, while the company wouldn’t disclose details, two of the systems are believed to be from Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

Boeing started delivery of the Advanced Strike Eagle to Saudi Arabia in December and has now reached double digits in delivered aircraft and deliveries will be completed over the next three years.

A company official, unsurprisingly, delivered some pushback against a ‘stealth overall’ philosophy and fifth generation aircraft.

‘The F-15, by its very nature not being [stealthy], I can hang things on my aircraft quickly, cheaply and more easily than an aircraft set up for stealth,’ the official said.

‘I can prove out technology on the F-15, that is the benefit of the platform. We have a lot of power and space available, we can do lots of things more quickly than other 5th generation aircraft.

‘If you consider that it is asymmetric threats being faced most at the moment, stealth is at its best facing conventional military power such as other fighter aircraft and powerful radars whereas a more conventional aircraft may be considered better at defeating asymmetric threats.

‘We have the only air superiority aircraft in production in the US today. We are running at 1.25 aircraft a month and we have the capacity to increase that and we have plans to do that if the customer demand is there.’

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