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US Air Force sees F-15EX as cheap and quick fix
FLIGHTGLOBAL.COM ^ | March 14, 2019 | GARRETT REIM

Posted on 03/14/2019 5:15:34 AM PDT by sukhoi-30mki

The US Air Force (USAF) is requesting funds from Congress for eight Boeing F-15EX fighters instead of more of its favoured aircraft, the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II stealth fighter, in a move aimed at cutting costs.

Over the past year and a half, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have come up with the idea as a means to quickly and cheaply replace the USAF’s ageing F-15C fleet, which will be ready for retirement in the 2020s, says a source familiar with discussions around the Pentagon's force planning.

Boeing

The new-build F-15 was not part of the service's original budget plans, but was added because the type has lower lifetime operating costs, the USAF acknowledges. The service is committed to buying 72 fighters per year, but cannot afford to purchase only F-35As because of that aircraft's high operating costs – which average about $35,000 per hour.

"Our challenge was when you look at the force structure that we have there were four fourth-[generation] airplanes – F-16, F-15E, A-10 and F-15C – that we need to fly in [the] 2030s. The F-15C is not going to make it. It is old and it is not going to fly past the mid-20s,” USAF chief of staff General David Goldfein said in testimony to the US Senate Appropriations Committee on 13 March.

"We used the best cost estimate that we had at the time and looked at the various options. The most affordable options – as long as we keep the F-35 absolutely on track with our programme of record – was to look at an F-15 variant to replace the F-15C."

As part of the Department of Defense’s fiscal year 2020 funding request, the USAF is initially requesting $1.1 billion for eight F-15EXs. The service plans to request 80 of the aircraft in total over the next five years, costing roughly $80 each. The first F-15EXs are expected to be delivered in FY2022.

The F-15EX is a slightly modified version of the Advanced F-15, a newer variant not in the USAF inventory, which has been purchased by Qatar.

Part of the expected operating savings will come from easier transitions for pilots and maintenance personnel from the F-15C to the F-15EX.

"If you transition an F-15 to any other airplane it takes about 24 months if it’s an active duty squadron, or 36 months if it's a [National] Guard squadron, for it to be deployable again and be back to the top of its readiness," the source says. "You’ve got to send all those pilots to Luke [AFB] to train them and then the maintainers to Sheppard [AFB], or wherever your conversion schools are going to be."

The USAF estimates that the transition time from an F-15 squadron to an F-35 squadron takes roughly 18 months for an active duty squadron and 36 months for an Air National Guard squadron. It estimates that six months or less will be required to transition from the F-15C to the F-15EX.

The transition period takes aircraft out of the USAF inventory, hurting its average readiness rates, which would be contrary to former Secretary of Defense James Mattis's goal of increasing this metric to above 80%.

In addition, as with any aircraft, when the USAF introduces the F-35A to its squadrons it has to re-equip those units with support equipment and an inventory of spare parts. The F-15 was introduced in 1976 and the USAF has already built a support structure around it.

"About 70% of the existing spare inventory already works on the [F-15EX]," says the source. “From the support equipment standpoint – so we are talking power carts [and] ladders – more than 90% of those [the USAF] already has."

The air force says it is still evaluating its spare inventory and equipment needs.

Lastly, the F-15EX is seen as a reliable launch pad for new, larger weapons, in particular hypersonic missiles that will not fit inside the F-35A's internal weapons bay, the source notes.

"We’ve got to carry a [7,000lb] to 8,000lb weapon that is enormous and doesn't fit in an internal bay," says the source. "And we need a very reliable platform that we well understand, that has power, space and cooling, and we can adapt quickly over the next 10, 12 or 15 years."

The USAF says hypersonic weapons are still in early stages of development, and that it is too early to know which platforms will be able to carry them.

Ultimately, Goldfein says the F-15EX cannot fully substitute for the F-35A, which he prizes for its stealth, as well as its sensor fusion: the ability to gather and distribute information to other aircraft.

"The F-15 will never be the F-35," he says. "It wasn’t designed to be."


TOPICS:
KEYWORDS: aerospace; f15; f15ex; usaf
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1 posted on 03/14/2019 5:15:34 AM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
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To: sukhoi-30mki

Makes a lot of sense.


2 posted on 03/14/2019 5:28:08 AM PDT by Blueflag (Res ipsa loquitur: non vehere est inermus)
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To: Blueflag

Lockmart spends big on PR, all thruout the internet post something about the F-35 and voila instant expert shows up to spin some very good spin. Boeing on the other hand must have insiders in the AF as well as the Navy because there they seem to be winning the ground game.


3 posted on 03/14/2019 5:36:58 AM PDT by junta ("Peace is a racket", testimony from crime boss Barrack Hussein Obama.)
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To: Blueflag

Eight? That many? wow.

What a crock.


4 posted on 03/14/2019 6:34:56 AM PDT by Sequoyah101 (It feels like we have exchanged our dreams for survival. We just hava few days that don't suck.)
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To: sukhoi-30mki

“...costing roughly $80 each.”

Quick order more!


5 posted on 03/14/2019 6:37:38 AM PDT by mad_as_he$$
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To: Sequoyah101

I missed that. 8 what?


6 posted on 03/14/2019 7:03:00 AM PDT by Blueflag (Res ipsa loquitur: non vehere est inermus)
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To: mad_as_he$$; Chode; Squantos; snooter55; Lockbox; carriage_hill; SkyDancer; Delta 21; ...
costing roughly $80 each.

YEEHAWW !!! If I don't buy My Meds for 1 month I think I can scrape together $80.00 !!!

I can see a Bonus use on the Southern Border !!!

7 posted on 03/14/2019 7:09:09 AM PDT by mabarker1 (Congress- the opposite of PROGRESS!!!)
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To: mabarker1

I’ll chip-in another $80.


8 posted on 03/14/2019 8:57:20 AM PDT by carriage_hill (A society grows great when old men plant trees, in whose shade they know they will never sit.)
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To: sukhoi-30mki

Still need a gun-truck after the 5th gens clear the skies.


9 posted on 03/14/2019 11:07:25 AM PDT by Mr. Blond
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To: Sequoyah101
Read the article:

As part of the Department of Defense’s fiscal year 2020 funding request, the USAF is initially requesting $1.1 billion for eight F-15EXs. The service plans to request 80 of the aircraft in total over the next five years, costing roughly $80 each. The first F-15EXs are expected to be delivered in FY2022.

10 posted on 03/14/2019 11:12:22 AM PDT by NorthMountain (... the right of the peopIe to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed)
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To: Blueflag

FTA: ....costing roughly $80 each
The Air Force can now buy in bulk at that low price : )


11 posted on 03/14/2019 2:20:54 PM PDT by minnesota_bound (My sister said the only thing that did not was the clock. GE has spare parts)
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To: NorthMountain

Creeping commitment. Nickle and dime boeing along one 8 bird slot at a time. Not a serious action. I’ll bet you a cow they never build 80.


12 posted on 03/14/2019 3:22:05 PM PDT by Sequoyah101 (It feels like we have exchanged our dreams for survival. We just hava few days that don't suck.)
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To: NorthMountain

Nickel


13 posted on 03/14/2019 3:23:11 PM PDT by Sequoyah101 (It feels like we have exchanged our dreams for survival. We just hava few days that don't suck.)
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To: minnesota_bound

At $80 a piece we can line the border with F15s and it would be cheaper than building a wall. MAGA!


14 posted on 03/14/2019 5:40:12 PM PDT by Blue Highway
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To: Sequoyah101
I’ll bet you a cow they never build 80. With the Swampocrats running Congress, that's a pretty good bet.
15 posted on 03/14/2019 5:58:55 PM PDT by NorthMountain (... the right of the peopIe to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed)
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To: sukhoi-30mki

Boeing is going to need F-15X orders to tide them over the lawsuits from the 737MAX


16 posted on 03/16/2019 5:27:40 PM PDT by hattend
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To: sukhoi-30mki

The only reason this is on the table is because the SecDef worked for Boeing. This guy is an idiot and a walking conflict-of-interest. He’s already stated publicly that Lockheed can’t run a program, which will get him sued every time Lockheed loses the bid on a contract. This guy is a walking legal problem, get him the hell out of there.


17 posted on 03/23/2019 12:37:39 PM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity (Liberalism is a social disease.)
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To: junta

SecDef Shanahan worked for Boeing for 30 years and now he’s trying to steer everything in DoD their way so he can go back as an even higher-paid executive. He promised to be unbiased, that lasted about 5 minutes.


18 posted on 03/23/2019 12:39:31 PM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity (Liberalism is a social disease.)
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To: Excuse_My_Bellicosity

They all suck just that the F-35 sucks more than most. The B model might be worth the squeeze but the rest are niche planes at best.


19 posted on 03/24/2019 4:50:05 AM PDT by junta ("Peace is a racket", testimony from crime boss Barrack Hussein Obama.)
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To: junta

You’re listening to the same media that had Hillary winning a landslide against Trump. The never-F-35ers are clueless asses. And yes, I’m in a position to know. Buying the F-15X is moronic, the F-35 is kicking the crap out of everybody right now.


20 posted on 03/24/2019 10:23:18 AM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity (Liberalism is a social disease.)
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