US Air Force takes delivery of second F-15EX fighter
The US Air Force has taken early delivery of a second F-15EX fighter jet, opening the way to beginning full-scale flight testing of the latest F-15 variant being built by a Boeing-led industry team for the Air Force and the Air National Guard.
Developed in a collaboration between industry, the US Air Force, and the Air National Guard, the F-15EX is intended to replace the venerable F-15C variant, which was introduced in 1979 as an improved single-seat, all-weather, air-superiority fighter. Even with its all-new digital infrastructure, as a fourth-generation fighter the F-15EX isn't expected to be able to handle modern air defenses beyond 2028, so it's expected to complete its 20,000 flight hours by undertaking homeland and air base defense, and no-fly zone enforcement.
The F-15EX is based on the F-15QA that Boeing is building for the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF). It includes a number of next-generation technologies, including fly-by-wire flight controls, a digital cockpit, hypersonic missile capabilities, an AMBER weapons rack holding 22 air-to-air missiles, an infrared search and track system, modernized sensors, AESA radar, electronic warfare systems, and what is described as the world's fastest mission computer.
The first F-15EX was delivered in March 2021 after the contract for 200 of the variant worth US$1.2 billion was finalized in July 2020. When the fighter enters service, it will be based first in Florida and Oregon.
"Moving from contract award to delivery in a matter of months enables the US Air Force to get a head start on flight testing and demonstrates our commitment to exceeding expectations," says Prat Kumar, Boeing vice president and F-15 program manager. "Along with the state-of-the-art avionics and survivability suite, the new F-15EX includes almost 3 miles (4.8 km) of high-speed digital data bus to enable open architecture, which will keep it evolving ahead of threats for decades."