Skip to comments.F-15 set to be ‘practical if not preferred’ answer to nation’s threats
Posted on 02/22/2011 8:00:18 PM PST by sukhoi-30mki
F-15 set to be practical if not preferred answer to nations threats
by GENE RECTOR, Staff Writer The Warner Robins Patriot
In a concession some months ago to whats practical rather than what many preferred, Defense Department officials decided to update the Air Forces fleet of F-15 Eagle fighters rather than buying additional, new production F-22s.
It is a move that shines a bright light on Robins Air Force Base where hundreds of workers daily engage in worldwide sustainment of the nations F-15 fleet.
Budget constraints then and especially now drove the decision. The F-15 upgrade featuring an active, electronically scanned array radar will give the aging Eagle impressive new capabilities, although the finished product will not equal the fifth generation F-22.
Defense officials irretrievably rolled the dice, first in cutting F-22 production to 183 aircraft from the initial requirement of more than 700 then in extending the life and the nations dependence upon the versatile Eagle.
Officials have said the development of fifth generation fighters by Russia and China is not overly disconcerting. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Senate Armed Services Committee members last week that he expected developmental challenges to prevent both the Russians and Chinese from fielding a large stealth fighter fleet in the near term.
Still, the Russians are developing their T-50 aircraft not only for their use but for sale to other foreign air forces. And by Gates own admission, China test flew its J-20 a year before U.S. intelligence agencies thought they could.
Col. Gerald Swift, who heads the eagle division within the Warner Robins Air Logistics Centers aerospace sustainment directorate, is far removed from the swirling politics and brinksmanship in Washington D.C. His job is simple: Keep the F-15 supported and flying wherever it is deployed or used and accommodate the changes needed to ensure it remains credible and effective.
He agrees that the updated Eagle will be strongly complementary to the F-22 Raptor, but certainly not its equal. Clearly, the Raptor is the worlds most formidable air superiority weapon system.
There are advantages the F-22 has and will continue to have over the F-15: low observability, higher maneuverability and thrust vectoring, Swift noted. Having a smaller (radar) signature certainly helps. Those are key pieces to the equation. Another is sensors. The F-22 sensors are the most modern we have.
Yet the F-15 updates will be impressive, particularly the new APG-63(V)3 radar for the Air Forces 250 F-15Cs and Ds and the APG-82(v)1 for the 222 newer Strike Eagles.
The change from mechanically to electronically scanned array will solve a host of maintenance issues.
We will get much better mean-time-between-failure, Swift said. Well go from tens of hours to hundreds. Then when you look at supportability and obsolescence, this is certainly the way to go.
But it gets even more exciting on the performance side. We will regain first shot, first kill capability by doubling our target acquisition and combat identification range, he pointed out. That will give us a much bigger stick out there than weve had in the past.
The electronically scanned feature also will give F-15 crews much greater situational awareness with its ability to detect and track multiple targets at the same time and a near-instantaneous capacity to shift from air-to-air to air-to-ground mode.
Barring additional budgetary constraints, Air Force officials have decided to accelerate the F-15 upgrades, completing F-15C work a year earlier and F-15E updates eight years earlier than planned. The F-15C/D work will be done by a contractor field team at the operational bases. Sustainment for the (V)3 radar is contract for life, Swift said, although the local base could complement the contractor by taking on some elements of the system.
The (V)1 upgrades for the F-15Es will be accomplished by Robins. Installation will be done by depot field teams at the bases while follow-on support will eventually be handled by the local installation.
Were standing that up to be in place at Robins by 2018, the Kansas native said. That means were transitioning here to handle the new radar. Well be upgrading our facility over the next four to five years.
How the F-15 and F-22 might operate tactically has been discussed in a number of trade publications. One suggested that the two might fly in tandem against a target with only the F-15 activating its sensors. Then at some advanced point the stealthy F-22 would proceed to take out the target.
Swift declined to discuss possible tactics but said the upgraded F-15 would be a strong, potential partner with the F-22.
The Raptor gives us the kick-down-the-door capability and the upgraded F-15s will complement that, he said. Certainly the things were doing today with improved communications and data links would certainly enhance the force mix. Were improving the Eagle in all of those roles.
Why not just update the P-51?
It’s a cool looking plane and it costs much less than the F-15/S
Who posts this garbage?
When will gates announce that he is converting all of our fighters to use ethanol contaminated jet fuel to combat “global warming”?
Makes about as much sense as continuing to recycle a great fighter that is just past its prime.
The Meteor fits the same launch rails used by the AIM-120 AMRAAM and has a range of over 100 km (62 miles), which would allow upgraded F-15's to have very long range beyond visual range (BVR) intercept capability even against fast-flying cruise missiles the Chinese are developing.
“When will gates announce that he is converting all of our fighters to use ethanol contaminated jet fuel to combat global warming?”
I’m actually surprised that some technologically-illiterate enviroweenie hasn’t suggested legislating the use of electric motors in aircraft.
I don’t see what the garbage is over here since most of what’s stated in the article is factually correct.
“Budget constraints”. The only time we hear these words in the Obama admin are in reference to the military.
Raytheon and Boeing are working on a new class of dual-role air to air missiles, which are supposed to be better than the Meteor in principle.
We just need to make sure that we schedule our dogfights for sunny days.
No fighter from any other manufacturer in the world can take it on...other than the Raptor.
It's record is somewhere around 115 - 0.
Put ANY CURRENT F-15 in the fleet against ANY demo or production fighter from a non-US manufacturer and it would win...115 - 0.
You're demonstrating your ignorance of military technology.
That’s very good to hear. I have been a little concerned with our inability to buy the F22s we wanted and China building their supposedly cool crap. We gotta have air superiority, period.
Hey! Don’t knock the F-15! It has a great combat record and the enemy knows not to mess it...what they have to concentrate is finding a replacement for the F-14. The F-18 just isn’t cutting it especially when it comes to defending carrier battle groups from long range threats...
In fact, the F-18E should get the MDBA Meteor missile so it could do almost the same type of long-range intercepts that the old AIM-54 Phoenix used to do.
okay homer, the p-51 was a WWII plane.
Did I have to mention that for you to understand the sarcasm of comparing it to an F-15?
Who’s the ignorant one here?
I like the US Navy solutions; just fry the electronics of the enemy with the EA-6B and the new EA-18 Growler.
I wish NavAir had thought about updating the Tomcat before sending them to the bone yard or even worse, the shredder.