The F-15 has alot of credentials -- it would not hurt to have more. It is cheap to build, very reliable, good multi-mode fighter/bomber --- just a good airplane. Heck, look how long the F-4 Phantom lasted us.... :-)
One has to look at the maintenance cost per flight hour to get a true picture of the Life Cycle Cost of this aircraft.
I was at Luke AFB when they recieved the first squadron of Fleagles. I worked on F-4s.
When we requisitioned tools for the aircraft, we saw the price charged. Items such as jack pads were identical for F-4s and F-15s. Yet there was an entirely different set of tools and prices. The F-15 jack pads were many times more expensive than the F-4 jack pads. Yet we were threatened that we must not use F-4 tools on F-15s. We must get a new F-15 tool, and pay the higher price for it.
I know what was going on. MacD was amortizing their development cost. And there were different contracts for different tools, and thus the different prices.
But it's still funny to hear that the F-15 is "cheap".
One of the F15 variants has more thrust than it weighs. It can accelerate going straight up...