January 26/23: Israel Request Israel has submitted a formal request to the US government for 25 F-15EX fighter aircraft, according to industry sources who spoke to Breaking Defense. An official letter of request was reportedly sent by the Israeli Ministry of Defense last week, marking the first step in the foreign military sale process. Jerusalem will now have to wait for an initial decision by the US before quantity and pricing are discussed.
Keep reading for the whole story with recent events put in context
F-15C over DC
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“Array of Aging American Aircraft Attracting Attention” discusses the issues that accompany an air force whose fighters have an average age of over 23.5 years – vs. an average of 8.5 years in 1967. One of the most obvious consequences is the potential for fleet groundings due to unforseen structural issues caused by time and fatigue. That very fear is responsible for the #1 priority placed on bringing new KC-X aerial tankers into the fleet to complement the USA’s 1960s-era KC-135 Stratotankers.
It can also affect the fighter fleet more directly.
Following the crash of a Missouri Air National Guard F-15C aircraft Nov 2/07 (see crash simulation), the US Air Force suspended non-mission critical F-15 flight operations on Nov 3/07. While the cause of that accident is still under investigation, preliminary findings indicate that a structural failure during flight may have been responsible. In response, Japan suspended its own F-15 flights, which left them in a bit of a bind – even as Israel’s F-15s joined them on the tarmac. As the effects continue to spread and the USAF and others continue to comment on this situation, DID continues to expand its coverage of this bellwether event. A conditional restoration of the American F-15A-D fleet to flight status was soon overturned by the re-grounding of that fleet as a result of the report’s conclusions – a status that remains only been partially lifted. Meanwhile, the accident report has been released (compete with video dramatization) and the status of the remaining aircraft will have significant implications for the USAF’s future F-15 fleet size. Not to mention its other procurement programs.
Then, too, this is America. Now there’s a lawsuit.
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The F-15A reached initial operational capability for the US Air Force in September 1975, and approximately 670 F-15s remain in the USAF’s inventory. Current F-15 flying locations include bases in the continental United States, Alaska, England, Hawaii, Japan and the Middle East, and the aircraft are active on the Iraqi and Afghan fronts. The Missouri Air National Guard F-15C that crashed was built in 1980.
Lt. Gen. Gary L. North, US CENTCOM Combined Forces Air Component commander, is maintaining the newer F-15E Strike Eagles on ground alert, to be used if required. Otherwise, he says he will accomplish all assigned missions using a variety of fighter, attack and bomber aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles. Lt. Gen. North added that:
“I worry about the health of our aging fleet and how sometimes it is not well understood by those our Airmen protect… The investigation will get to the cause of the accident.”
“The F-15s and F-16s were designed and built in the late ’60s and ’70s. Some of them were produced up until the early ’80s. But they’ve led a pretty hard life of 17 years of combat. So you have to replace them with something, because we were continuing to restrict the airplanes. In the F-15 case, we’ve got the airplane restricted to 1.5 Mach. It was designed to be a 2.5 Mach airplane. We’ve got it limited on maneuvering restrictions because we’ve had tail cracks, fuselage cracks, cracks in the wings. The problem with that is – and Mike Wynne uses this analogy – it’s almost like going to the Indy 500 race practicing all the way up until Memorial Day at 60 miles an hour, and then on game day, accelerating the car out to 200 miles an hour. It’s not the time to be doing that on game day.
So in our training models and in our scenarios, we’re limiting these airplanes because they’re restricted and getting old. So there’s two parts to the recapitalization of the fighter inventory. The first part is the existing stuff is old and it’s getting broke, and it’s getting harder to get it out of depot on time. And our availability rates and our in-commission rates are going down. The ability to generate the sorties on those old airplanes is in the wrong direction.”
“A USAF F-15 crashed in the Gulf of Mexico in 2002 when it broke up after the leading edge of its left vertical stabiliser detached in a high-speed dive to Mach 1.97. The pilot was killed.
The USAF says it began replacing the leading edge and upper aft portion of the vertical stabilisers during depot overhaul and has so far completed 463 of its 664 aircraft. The F-15 involved in the Missouri accident had its vertical stabilisers repaired in August 2003, the service says.”
Further investigation focused on the plane’s longerons, which connect the aircraft’s metal ‘skin’ to the frame, and run along the length and side of the aircraft. Both the Accident Investigation Board and Boeing simulations have indicated them as a possible source of catastrophic failure; indeed, DID had wondered why structural failure was suspected immediately, and it with that revelation it began to make sense. As DID explained at the time, if one or more of those longerons had failed, the stresses on the airframe could have folded or broken the plane in half – a very unusual form of accident. Eventually, the publication of the formal report confirmed that hypothesis:
“The one longeron, already not up to design specifications, cracked apart under the stress of a 7G turn, the colonel said. This led to the other longerons failing as well, which then caused the cockpit to separate from the rest of the fuselage. The pilot was able to eject, but suffered a broken arm when the canopy snapped off.”
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Nor is this problem confined to the USA – or even to the here and now.
Since Japan’s F-16-derived F-2 fighters are also grounded in the wake of a recent crash at Nagoya, this leaves 1960s era F-4EJ ‘Kai’ Phantom IIs as Japan’s interceptor and fighter patrol fleet for the time being.
Israel confirmed to Flight International that it had also grounded its 70 F-15A-D air superiority aircraft, which are undergoing multi-role conversions, and its F-15I Strike Eagles. The Strike Eagles were later removed from the USA’s concern list, but its F-15 A-D fleet is an important component of Israeli air defenses alongside its larger F-16 fleet.
Gen. John D.W. Corley, the commander of US Air Combat Command, was not encouraged by the results of the report, and of the in-depth fleet inspections that led to 40% of the Eagle fleet remaining on the ground over 3 months after the investigation:
“The difficulty is that issues have been found with F-15s built between 1978 and 1985, across A through D models at several bases, so no one source of the problem can be isolated… This isn’t just about one pilot in one aircraft with one bad part… I have a fleet that is 100 percent fatigued, and 40 percent of that has bad parts. The long-term future of the F-15 is in question… We don’t have a full and healthy fleet, so we’ve gotten behind on training missions, instructor certifications, classes and exercises…
We’re going over each and every aircraft to make a determination. We will take some F-15s out of the inventory. It just doesn’t make sense to spend the time and money if it won’t be worth it for some aircraft.”
F-15E, P-51, F-22A
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January 26/23: Israel Request Israel has submitted a formal request to the US government for 25 F-15EX fighter aircraft, according to industry sources who spoke to Breaking Defense. An official letter of request was reportedly sent by the Israeli Ministry of Defense last week, marking the first step in the foreign military sale process. Jerusalem will now have to wait for an initial decision by the US before quantity and pricing are discussed.
January 6/23: Air-To-Air The US Air Force disclosed that the F-15EX fired air-to-air missiles from the new weapon stations 1 and 9 for the first time on November 29. An AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile was fired from Station 1 and an AIM-9X from Station 9 over the Eglin Test and Training Complex’s water range by pilots from the 96th Test Wing. During the first test of its kind, the Air Force verified that weapons could be fired effectively and safely from those stations. The successful launch of these weapons demonstrated the aircraft’s ability to carry and use a total of 12 air-to-air missiles.
December 16/22: Modification Boeing won a $255 million modification by he Defense Logistics Agency Aviation for the F-15 depot program. This is a fixed-price-incentive and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. The ordering period end date is May 17, 2027. Using military service is Air Force.
November 14/22: Emergency Landing An F-15C assigned to the 144th Fighter Wing was forced to make an emergency landing at Fresno Yosemite International Airport after the fighter started venting fuel in flight. The incident took place on the morning of November 10 and the fighter wing says the incident poses no hazard to the public.
November 10/22: Acoustic Tests The US Air Force has completed a series of ground and flight acoustic tests for its F-15EX fighter aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. The trial was the first for the air force’s F-15 with the GE-129 engine. Test administrators aimed to establish a baseline of sound data to update the information on noise level predictions and models where the aircraft will be deployed.
August 8/22: EPAWSS Data from the F-15 Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System was analyzed by the US Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Detachment 6 team and the analysis was that the system is effective in contested airspace. “EPAWSS proves that the jet can also get into the middle of a fight and cause massive issues for our adversaries,” said Capt. Max Denbin, the team’s lead test engineer. “Whether in a more passive jamming role, or as a follow-on strike package, an F-15E or EX with EPAWSS causes detrimental impacts to opposing forces decision space,” said 1st Lt. Hagan Strader, lead analyst.
July 25/22: Eagle Passive Active Warning and Survivability System The integration of the Eagle Passive Active Warning and Survivability System for the first two F-15Es has begun at Boeing’s San Antonio facility, according to a Boeing press release. A total of 43 F-15Es are slated to receive the EPAWSS enhancement, which is developed by a joint team of Boeing and BAE Systems. EPAWSS is also being developed for F-15EXs, the new generation of F-15 aircraft built by Boeing. The system was initially tested with the delivery of the first two F-15EXs that participated in Northern Edge exercises in 2021, the release says.
July 20/22: Test-Fire An AIM-120D3 air-to-air missile with production hardware was test-fired for the first time on June 30 from a F-15E. It was the first of five combined Air Force and Navy live-fires scheduled for the AMRAAM F3R program, which replaces 15 Circuit Card Assemblies on the missile. Raytheon says in a press release that an additional live fire for the Foreign Military Sales AIM-120C8 variant will occur in the near future.
March 29/22: Departure Following the closure of the F-15C Weapons Instructor Course at Nellis Air Force Base, the Eagles assigned to the base have started to depart for other bases. The final course, Weapons Instructor Course 21-B, flew its last flights on December 8, 2021.
March 17/22: C To EX Speaking at a Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies event on March 14, the US Pacific Air Forces commander said new weapon systems such as the F-15EX are required in order to prepare for Indo-Pacific conflict. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach said the aging F-15C, now based in Japan, needs to be replaced with the newer F-15EX. The new fighter is able to stay airborne for up to four hours without aerial refueling and can carry hypersonic weapons in future, Wilsbach added.
February 14/22: Indonesia The US government has approved a potential Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Indonesia for 36 F-15ID fighters. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency has notified Congress after the sale was approve by the State Department. The sale package includes MS-110 Recce Pods and AN/ASG-34 Infrared Search and Track equipment. The Pentagon says the proposed sale will improve Indonesia’s capability to meet current and future threats by enabling it to provide increased deterrence and air defense coverage across a very complex air and maritime domain.
February 3/22: AIM-120D A crew from the 40th Flight Test Squadron successfully carried out the first AIM-120D missile firing from an F-15EX on January 25. The test took place in the Gulf of Mexico and a BQM-167 target drone was engaged by the air-to-air weapon. Maj. Benjamin Naumann, who fired the missile, said: “I am humbled to have the opportunity to fire the first weapon, but the bigger success is the verification of the F-15EX capability to live-fire a missile.”
December 10/21: Saudi Arabia Boeing won a $93 million contract modification for the Royal Saudi Air Force F-15SA Original Equipment Manufacturer Training Program. Saudi Arabia’s F-15SA Advanced Eagle includes Raytheon’s APG-63(V)3 AESA radar, fly-by-wire control systems and two additional underwing weapons stations. It features upgraded avionics, more powerful engines, and the BAE Systems Digital Electronic Warfare System/Common Missile Warning System (DEWS/CMWS). Work will take place in Saudi Arabia. Estimated completion date is December 31, 2023.
December 6/21: ADCPII Boeing won a $28.5 million deal for F-15 Advanced Display Core Processor II (ADCPII) interim contractor support. The ADCPII provides mission processing for new advanced capabilities such as Eagle Passive/Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS), long-range infrared search and track capability (IRST), high-speed radar communications, and future software suite upgrades. Work will take place ein Missouri and the UK. Estimated completion will be by April 30, 2023.
November 26/21: Qatar Boeing won a $16.3 million modification for GOLDesp enterprise resource planning, Delta support equipment sustainment and survival radios sustainment in support of the 36 F-15QA aircraft. Work will be performed in Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, and is expected to be completed by November 30, 2024. Qatar signed a deal to buy 36 F-15QAs in June 2017, and in April 2020 the first jet took its maiden flight.
November 2/21: Propulsion System General Electric won a $1.6 billion deal including all options for the F-15EX Lots 2+ propulsion system procurement. This contract provides for 29 F110-GE-129 engines (installs and spares) for the F-15EX fleet. The contract also provides seven option lots for a most probable quantity of 329 total engines if all options are exercised. The F-15EX is a ready-now replacement for the F-15C that includes best-in-class payload, range and speed. Work will take place in Ohio and Texas. Estimated completion date is June 30, 2031.
October 26/21: Operational Test Mission Two F-15EXs that were delivered to the US Air Force have carried out the first operational test mission at Nellis Air Force Base. The evaluation involved F-15Cs and F-15Es as well. Running from October 18-25, the pilots were also evaluating the Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System while there.
October 13/21: GBU-72 The F-15E has a new bunker buster added to its arsenal, the GBU-72 Advanced 5K Penetrator. The new weapon was tested at the Eglin Air Force Base range by the 96th Test Wing. A joint-direct-attack-munition (JDAM) tail kit from a GBU-31 was modified so that it would fit and guide the 5,000-pound weapon. The first weapons load, flight and release took place on July 23. The Strike Eagle’s existing bunker busting weapon is the laser-guided GBU-28.
September 29/21: MTC Boeing won a $9.3 million contract modification for F-15C and F-15E mission training centers (MTC). The modification provides for updates to the F-15 MTC training systems to achieve service objectives associated with implementation of F-15C/E Aircraft Mission Package-20. Work will take place in Idaho, North Carolina, the UK and Japan.
August 27/21: Qatar Boeing formally rolled out its new F-15QA fighter for the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF). The first set of F-15QA jets will ferry to Qatar later this year following the completion of pre-delivery pilot training. Boeing has been providing maintenance and logistics support for the QEAF during pre-delivery pilot training, which began earlier this year. In addition, Boeing will establish and operate an aircrew and maintenance training center for the QEAF at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar through 2024 while also providing in-country spares and logistics support once aircraft are delivered.
August 24/21: Shooting Down Iranian UAV A US Air Force F-15E fighter shot down an Iranian unmanned air vehicle over Syria on August 21. The drone was deemed a threat to Mission Support Site Green Village, which has hundreds of American troops stationed there.
August 20/21: MTC Boeing won a $10 million modification for F-15C and F-15E Mission Training Centers (MTC). The contract modification provides for updates to the F-15 MTC training systems in order to achieve training service objectives. Boeing is upgrading USAF F-15C and F-15E MTCs with the Suite 9.1 Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System. Work will take place in Idaho, North Carolina, Nevada, Japan and England.
June 30/21: MTC Boeing won a $128.8 million contract for the F-15 Mission Training Center (MTC) simulation services to support the Air Combat Command, Pacific Air Forces and Air Force in Europe locations. The contractor will provide all personnel, equipment, supplies, transportation, tools, materials, supervision and other items to perform all MTC services. These services will provide simulation capability to train F-15 pilots and system operators in high-fidelity training devices. Work will take place in Missouri, Japan, Idaho, Nevada, the UK and North Carolina. Estimated completion will be in December 31, 2021.
June 11/21:Radar Eagle Vision Raytheon won a $3 billion contract for F-15 Radar Eagle Vision. This contract provides for the production, modernization and support of the F-15 APG-82 radar system to rapidly deliver and stay aligned with the F-15 weapon system program. According To Raytheon, the APG-82(V)1 AESA radar is the latest radar advancement for the US Air Force F-15E fleet and optimizes the F-15E jets multirole mission capability. Additionally, with its extensive range and advanced multi-target track and precision engagement capabilities, the APG-82(V)1 offers enhancement in system reliability over the APG-70 radar. Work will take place in California. Expected completion date is June 8, 2036.
May 25/21: Mishap in Qatar A Boeing F-15QA Advanced Eagle combat aircraft destined for Qatar suffered a mishap when two US Air Force (USAF) pilots ejected while the aircraft was on the ground during pre-delivery trials in the United States. The incident occurred at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Illinois on 18 May. Images posted of the aircraft afterwards show it to have suffered little to no visible damage, with only the two ejection seats and canopy missing.
May 18/21: JASSM The US Air Force completed the Project Strike Rodeo (PSR) munitions proof-of-concept that validated loading five Lockheed Martin AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missiles (JASSMs) on a Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle, according to a service statement. The proof-of-concept performed by the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron started in January. A team of expert tacticians worked through a specific scenario that relied on the ability to escort a bomber loaded with stand-off munitions to a release point in a highly contested environment.
May 10/21: Alaska Training Exercise The first two F-15EX fighter planes of the US Air Force are participating in an Alaska training exercise, the Air Force said. Two of the new-model aircraft have been built, and both are elements of the Northern Edge 21 exercise underway until May 14 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, the branch said in a press release. The planes are variants of the F-15C, and are equipped with improved maneuverability, acceleration, durability, computer power and armament, according to their manufacturer, Boeing.
April 22/21: 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron A second F-15EX has arrived at Eglin Air Force Base and the aircraft will be flown by the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron. This is also the final F-15EX delivery to the US Air Force for FY21. The F-15EX will make its exercise debut at Northern Edge 2021. The two F-15EXs and testers from the 40th Flight Test Squadron and 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron will work together in integrated developmental and operational test, effectively expediting the test timeline.
April 14/21: Japan Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi has explained to a House of Councillors committee on April 12 on why the cost of upgrading the F-15J had gone up. Kishi says Japan has to spend more as the electronic warfare system that it choose for the upgrade faces parts shortages. Tokyo had wanted to buy 101 sets of the ALQ-239 Digital Electronic Warfare System (DEWS). It is now believe that they were told to switch to the new Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS) instead.
April 9/21: Eagle II The F-15EX variant of the F-15 series of US Air Force fighter planes, was renamed the Eagle II in a ceremony on Wednesday at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Lt. Gen. Duke Richardson announced the official designation in a rollout of the plane, which will replace the aging F-15C/D fleet. The US Air Force accepted its first F-15EX from manufacturer Boeing on March 11.
March 5/21: ACE The 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron recently flew an F-15E carrying six JDAMs on a single side of the fighter to prove a concept for Agile Combat Employment (ACE). The test proves that the Strike Eagle can now carry up to 15 JDAMs, up from nine previously, to a remote location and use those bombs to reload itself or other fighter aircraft. Previously, it took two C-130s to carry the necessary munitions and personnel to a remote location for the loading. And those JDAMs had to be assembled once they arrived. With this new approach, the requirement for onsite bomb building is now longer needed. Only one C-130 will be used instead.
March 4/21: EPAWSS BAE Systems was awarded a $58 million contract from Boeing. The deal is to start low rate initial production of the F-15 Eagle Passive Active Warning and Survivability System for the US Air Force. “The start of EPAWSS production marks a critical milestone and is a testament to the dedication and commitment of our industry team,” said Jerry Wohletz, BAE’s VP/GM of Electronic Combat Solutions, in a press statement. “Our technology is cutting-edge, our factories are world-class, and our people are innovative and mission-focused.” The all-digital system EPAWSS enables pilots to monitor, jam and deceive threats in contested airspace and combines multispectral sensors and countermeasures, industry-leading signal processing, microelectronics, and intelligent algorithms to deliver fully integrated radar warning, situational awareness, geolocation and self-protection capabilities.
March 2/21: Aircrew Training CAE USA-Mission Solutions won a $10.8 million contract modification for the F-15E, F-16 and F-22A contract aircrew training and courseware development contract. The modification is for exercising Option Year Four. The Boeing F-15E dual-role fighter is an advanced long-range interdiction fighter and tactical aircraft. The F-15E is the latest version of the Eagle, a Mach 2.5-class twin-engine fighter. The F-16, the mainstay of the Air Force aerial combat fleet, has been adapted to complete a number of missions, including air-to-air fighting, ground attack and electronic warfare. The F-22A Raptor is an advanced tactical fighter aircraft. Work will be performed at Joint Base (JB) Langley-Eustis, Virginia; Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina; Shaw AFB, South Carolina; Tyndall AFB, Florida; Nellis AFB, Nevada; Hill AFB, Utah; and Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, and is expected to be completed March 31, 2022.
February 12/21: Nose Job The 104th Fighter Wing has painted an American flag on the nose of its flagship F-15C and the graphic is composed of the names of members in the wing as well as those who had lost their lives while serving the 104th Fighter Wing. The roughly six-foot by four-foot nose art graphic is painted on both sides of the aircraft and the names of those who had fallen are painted in gold color. This F-15C #85-125 scored a kill against a Iraqi MiG-29 on January 17, 1991 using a AIM-7 missile.
February 4/21: F-15EX Made Its First Flight The Boeing F-15EX fighter jet completed its first flight Tuesday, paving the way for the early delivery of the first two of the new fighter jet to the Air Force later this quarter, Boeing announced. According to the company, the jet took off from St. Louis Lambert International Airport and completed a 90-minute test flight before returning to the airport. Matt Giese, Boeing F-15’s chief test pilot, checked out the jet’s avionics, advanced systems and software while a test team monitored the data collected during the flight in real time, confirming that the aircraft performed according to plan.
February 2/21: India’s F-15EX Boeing confirmed that the US government has sanctioned its bid to promote its F-15EX Advanced Eagle combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF). This bid will be supported by a new industry initiative, that will seek to develop in India an aerospace hub for Boeing military and commercial aircraft. Seven of the world’s premier fighter manufacturers have already indicated interest in competing for the Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) ongoing acquisition of 114 medium fighters. The contract is worth an estimated $20-30 billion.
January 26/21: Rotary Vane Assemblies Woodward HRT Inc. won a maximum $9.7 million deal for F-15 rotary vane assemblies. The Boeing F-15E dual-role fighter is an advanced long-range interdiction fighter and tactical aircraft. The F-15E is the latest version of the Eagle, a Mach 2.5-class twin-engine fighter. Work under the contract will take place in California. Ordering Period End Date is April 1, 2025. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.
January 4/20: EPAWSS Boeing won a $189.3 million contract modification for F-15 Eagle Passive Active Warning and Survivability System (EPAWSS) low-rate initial production (LRIP). This contract modification adds government furnished property repair as well as acquisition of Group A and B kits, support equipment, mod line standup, technical orders and interim contractor support efforts for the LRIP of the EPAWSS systems which will be installed on existing F-15 aircraft. The Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System provides the US Air Force F-15 fleet with advanced electronic warfare technology to maximize mission effectiveness and survivability. Work will take place in Texas. Estimated completion date is December 31, 2026.
December 16/20: Passive Active Warning and Survivability System Boeing won a $79.6 million deal for F-15 Eagle Passive Active Warning and Survivability System low rate initial production. The Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System provides the US Air Force F-15 fleet with advanced electronic warfare technology to maximize mission effectiveness and survivability. Developed by BAE Systems as a sub-contractor to Boeing, the EPAWSS is designed to sample the radio frequency (RF) spectrum, identify threats, prioritize, and allocate jamming resources against them, and will replace the 1980s-vintage Tactical Electronic Warfare Suite (TEWS) currently fitted to the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) about 220 F-15E Strike Eagles. It is also one of the systems earmarked for the service’s latest F-15EX Advanced Eagle, of which as many as 200 are slated for eventual procurement. Work will take place in San Antonio, Texas. Estimated completion date is December 13, 2026.
November 11/20: Qatar Boeing awarded a $657.2 million contract action modification for the F-15Q Qatar program. The contract modification provides a comprehensive sparing program and contractor logistics support for the sustainment of the F-15QA aircraft. Back in April, Boeing successfully completed the first flight of the F-15QA fighter developed for the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF). According to Boeing, the F-15QA brings to its operators next-generation technologies such as fly-by-wire flight controls, digital cockpit and modernized sensors. Logistical support for training devices and administrative costs are also included in the modification. Work will take place at Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar.
November 9/20: F-15EX In an interview with Air Force Magazine, Boeing’s Vice President and F-15 Program Manager Prat Kumar commented on the status of the F-15EX program for the US Air Force. He said that Japan would be planning to incorporate many of the EX features except the fly-by-wire system. However, it is unknown if Kumar was talking about features that Japan plans to have in new aircraft purchases or those features that will be incorporated in the F-15JSI upgrade program. Boeing signed a Direct Commercial Sale agreement with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) to upgrade Japan’s F-15J to the F-15JSI in July this year. Kumar said the Air Force’s adoption of the F-15EX will potentially expand the number of countries that might buy the jet, including current users Israel, Japan, Qatar, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia. “The world watches what the US Air Force buys,” he said. “So clearly there’s interest in our existing customer base across the world.” Israel is “taking a look” at the new F-15, he said, while Japan is planning to incorporate many of the EX features except the fly-by-wire system.
October 9/20: Singapore PKL Services won a $13.8 million price modification to continue providing military aircraft F15 SG maintenance and operations training. The contract provides for the Republic of Singapore Air Force training on F15 aircraft, and includes both maintenance and operations on the F15 aircraft. The F-15 has a wingspan of 42 feet 9.75 inches (13.05 m) and a length of 63 feet 9 inches (19.43 m). The single-seat air-superiority version is armed with a 20-millimeter rotary cannon and an array of short-range and medium-range air-to-air missiles. The RSAF’s F-15SG is an all-weather multi-role fighter designed to achieve air superiority over the battlefield. It is one of the most advanced and technologically sophisticated variant of the F-15 aircraft built to date. Work will take place in Idaho and estimated completion date is September 30, 2022.
August 27/20: Aerial Targets Program PAE Aviation and Technical Services won a $19.7 million contract modification for the Aerial Targets Program. The contract modification provides for the exercise of an option for an additional year of service under the multiple year contract which directly supports live-fire weapon system testing and enables the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group to perform developmental and operational weapons testing for all air-to-air missiles for F-15, F-16, F-22, and F-35 aircraft. Work will take place at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida; and Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. Expected completion date is September 30, 2021.
August 24/20: Repair And Service Honeywell International won a $20.8 million deal for the repair of the advanced display core processor (ADCP) and digital mapping service (DMS) in F-15Es. The Boeing F-15E dual-role fighter is an advanced long-range interdiction fighter and tactical aircraft. The F-15E is the latest version of the Eagle, a Mach 2.5-class twin-engine fighter. More than 1,500 F-15s are in service worldwide with the US Air Force, US Air National Guard and the air forces of Israel, Japan and Saudi Arabia, including over 220 F-15E fighters. Work will take place in Phoenix, Arizona. Estimated completion date is August 19, 2025.
August 4/20: Replacement? The US Air Force may replace its 218 F-15Es with F-15EXs, which could expand the new program to over 400 aircraft, according to service documents justifying the sole-source contract to Boeing. In its F-15EX Justification and Approval (J&A) document, which was dated March 2018 but only published this month, the flying branch said while the F-15EX acquisition program is “initially” intended to refresh the aging F-15C/D, a decision to similarly replace the F-15E Strike Eagle fleet with the EX “has not been made, but remains an option.” The documents also disclosed that Boeing will most likely build 144 F-15EX fighters to replace the 234 F-15C/Ds that are currently in USAF service. It also quoted the F-15 system program office as saying the EX will enjoy “90-95 percent commonality” with the F-15QA that Qatar has ordered. Deliveries of the F-15QA will commence soon. It further justified the purchase by stating that it takes approximately “six months or less to transition from the F-15C/D to the F-15EX.” And transitioning from “F-15s to the F-35 (or any other airframe) will take approximately 18 months for an Active-duty squadron and 36 months for an Air National Guard squadron.”
July 15/20: F-15EX Boeing won a $22.9 billion deal for the F-15EX system. The delivery order provides for design, development, integration, manufacturing, test, verification, certification, delivery, sustainment and modification of F-15EX aircraft, as well as spares, support equipment, training materials, technical data and technical support. The contract award is a big win for Boeing and gives a second life for the F-15 production line in St. Louis, Mo. After years of urging the Air Force to consider an advanced version of the F-15 as a complementary capability to Lockheed Martin’s F-35, Boeing found an ally in the Defense Department’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, which in 2019 forced the service to purchase F-15EX planes in order to build capacity. Work will take place in St. Louis, Missouri and at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Expected completion date is December 31, 2023.
April 17/20: EW Testing The US Air Force is progressing electronic warfare (EW) testing of the Eagle Passive/Active Warning and Survivability System upgrade for the Boeing F-15 combat aircraft. An F-15E Strike Eagle fitted with the BAE Systems EPAWSS electronic defensive aids system began the first phase of critical EW testing at the Benefield Anechoic Facility on Edwards Air Force Base, California, in May 2019. Testing is currently continuing at the same facility, the air force said. “The ongoing tests are required to collect the data to establish the integration of the EPAWSS radar and missile warning capabilities and the electronic countermeasures onto the F-15E platform,” Ed Sabat, Project Development Lead and Civilian Director of Operations with the 772nd Test Squadron was quoted as saying.
April 16/20: Maiden Flight in Qatar Boeing announced that it has successfully completed the first flight of the F-15QA fighter during a 90-minute mission from the Lambert International Airport in St. Louis. The company developed the F-15QA for the Qatar Emiri Air Force. “This successful first flight is an important step in providing the QEAF an aircraft with best-in-class range and payload,” said Prat Kumar, Boeing vice president and F-15 program manager. The F-15QA includes fly-by-wire flight controls, a digital cockpit, modernized sensors, radar and a electronic warfare capabilities — and the world’s fastest mission computer.
April 8/20: Qatar Boeing won a $68 million contract action for the F-15 Qatar program. The deal supports the Foreign Military Sales requirement for the Qatar Emiri Air Force. It also provides maintenance and logistics support for aircraft and training devices conducting pre-delivery training. In August 2019, Boeing was awarded a $500 million contract to provide aircrew and maintenance training for the Qatari Emiri Air Forces fleet of 36 F-15QAs. Qatar had signed a $12 billion deal with the US government for 36 F-15QAs in June 2017 in a deal widely seen to save the F-15 product line. The F-15QA is similar to Saudi Arabias F-15SA Advanced Eagle, which includes Raytheons APG-63(V)3 AESA radar, fly-by-wire control systems and 11 under-wing weapons stations. Work will take place in St. Louis, Missouri. Work its expected to be completed by December 21, 2021.
April 7/20: Engine Emergency An F-15E on a combat mission over the Middle East encountered a rare emergency on both engines in January but the crew was able to fly the aircraft to an emergency divert location. Jonathan Kipp, weapons system officer, from the 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron led a two-ship of F-15Es on a close air support mission. Four hours into the flight, the crew experienced problems. The datalink and air-to-air distance measuring equipment that improve situational awareness on their wingman were both inoperative. Finally, coalition ground control radar was temporarily down, meaning they were not getting updates on where other aircraft were in the area. This left them with only one way to locate their wingman, their radar.
April 3/20: MTC Services Boeing won an $11.1 million contract modification for F-15C and F-15E Mission Training Centers (MTC) services on contractor furnished, high-fidelity simulation equipment. Contractor will provide the simulation capability to train pilots and weapons system operators for F-15C and F-15E aircraft platforms. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the contracting activity.The F-15 Eagle has been the US Air Force’s primary fighter jet aircraft and intercept platform for decades. The Eagle’s air superiority is achieved through a mixture of unprecedented maneuverability and acceleration, range, weapons and avionics. Work will take place at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina; Mountain Home, Idaho; Langley, Virginia; Kadena Air Base, Japan; and Royal Air Force, Lakenheath, England, and is expected to be completed by December 31 2020.
April 2/20: Cartridge Actuated Devices/Propellant Actuated Devices The US Air Force Life Cycle awarded a $91 million contract to Universal Propulsion for multiple national stock numbers for Cartridge Actuated Devices/Propellant Actuated Devices. The deal provides for use in the egress systems of Air Force B-1, B-2, F-22, F-117, QF-16, and U-2 aircraft; Air Force, Navy, and Foreign Military Sales C-17, F-15, F-5, QF-4, T-37 and T-38 aircraft, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration aircraft. Universal Propulsion designs and manufactures aircraft ejection systems. The Company products include air crew escape systems, sequencing systems, ejection seats and related components. Aircraft Interior Products Propulsion Systems serves customers worldwide. The contract involves foreign military sales to Bahrain, Chile, Greece, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia and Turkey. Work will take place in Fairfield, California. Expected completion will be by March 1, 2027.
February 27/20: Mission Planning Software Development Tapestry Solutions won a $29.4 million award for the F-15 mission planning software development and maintenance. The deal provides for the F15 software development of the v6.1 Mission Planning Environment and supports the F-15 Organizational Flight Program Suite 9.1 through sustainment of the previously-fielded v5.0 Mission Planning Environment for the Air Force and foreign country specific releases for the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) client nations as well as the in-test v6.0 Mission Planning Environment. The Foreign Military Sales effort allows continued support to incorporate requirements to provide country specific versions of Air Force Mission Planning Environment updates in accordance with each country specific FMS Letters of Acceptance between the US government and the foreign government. The Mission Planning Environment updates will be fielded outside the continental US to the FMS costumers with current Letters of Acceptance in place with the U.S. government. Work will take place in Missouri. Estimated completion date is July 31, 2023.
February 3/20: ADCP II Boeing won a $84.1 million contract modification for the F-15 Advanced Display Core Processor (ADCP) II Low-Rate Initial Production 4. The modification exercises an option that provides the production and integration of the ADCP II boxes and related equipment into the F-15 platform. The ADCP II can process 87 billion instructions per second of computing throughput, Boeing said, creating faster and more reliable mission processing capability for pilots and crews. The increased processing capability is critical to new advanced capabilities such as Eagle Passive/Active Warning Survivability System, long range infrared search and track capability, high speed radar communications and future software suite upgrades. Work will take place in St. Louis, Missouri and estimated completion date is July 22, 2022.
January 14/20 Saudi Arabia Advanced Electronics Co. won a $17 million contract modification for the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) F-15SA Cyber Protection System (CPS) and Related Facilities program. This modification provides for three years of in-Kingdom Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) for the CPS. The scope of this contract effort will include the extension of existing CLS support for three additional years, as well as related mobilization, de-mobilization, transportation and housing expenses for CLS personnel. The contract is a foreign military sales acquisition through the US and Saudi Arabia, authorized in 2015 as part of an agreement that also authorized the sale and upgrade of several F-15 variant aircraft to the kingdom. Advanced Electronics is a Riyadh-based electronics research and manufacturing firm, specialized in advanced electronics research for defense and communication. It was established in 1988 under the directives of the government of Saudi Arabia. The company will perform work at RSAF facilities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Expected completion date is May 31, 2022.
December 24/19: Saudi Arabia Advanced Electronics won a $13.7 million contract modification for the Royal Saudi Air Force F-15SA Cyber Protection System and related facilities program. The modification provides for Build 2 of the Cyber Protection System. The scope of the deal effort will include the deployment of a Cyber Security Operations Center at Prince Sultan Air Base, the establishment of End Point Security (data-at-rest encryption using MS BitLocker), and additional System Integration Lab Instances. FMS case SR-D-SAO is for the total package of acquisition and fielding of 84 F-15A aircraft; the upgrade of 70 F-15SA aircraft to the F-154SA configuration; the procurement of associated equipment, weapons, and spares; and the construction, refurbishment and infrastructure improvements of support facilities for the F-15SA in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The first of 152 Boeing F-15SA (Saudi Advanced) Eagle fighters arrived in the Kingdom on December 13, 2016. The F-15SA is equipped 11 wing weapon stations, two more than the F-15S, extending its 13 tonne weapon payload capability. Upgraded avionics include a digital glass cockpit, fly-by-wire controls, a BAE Systems Digital Electronic Warfare System (DEWS), Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems, a Raytheon APG-63(V)3 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, Link-16 Multifunctional Information Distribution System and AN/AAS-42 Infrared Search and Track Systems. Work under the Foreign Military Sale will take place at Royal Saudi Arabian Air Force Facilities in Saudi Arabia. Estimated completion will be on December 31, 2020.
November 7/19: Special Purpose Cable Assemblies Aptiv Services won a $28.4 million contract for F-15 aircraft electrical special purpose cable assemblies. Using military service is the US Air Force. The F-15 Eagle has been the US Air Force’s primary fighter jet aircraft and intercept platform for decades. The aircraft has electronic systems and weaponry to detect, acquire, track and attack enemy aircraft while operating in friendly or enemy-controlled airspace. The weapons and flight control systems are designed so one person can safely and effectively perform air-to-air combat. Aptiv Services US, LLC designs and engineers a variety of automotive systems and components. The Company manufactures fuel cells, entertainment systems, sensors, powertrain systems, driver interfaces, and security devices. The company will perform work in California. Estimated performance completion date is November 5, 2024.
October 31/19: Japan The US State Department approved a possible Foreign Military Sale to Japan for the upgrade of up to ninety-eight F-15J aircraft to a Japanese Super Interceptor (JSI) configuration for an estimated cost of $4.5 billion. The F-15J is the Japanese version of the McDonnell Douglas F-15C and is manufactured under license by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. McDonnell Douglas and the F-15 product line were purchased by Boeing in 1997. As part of the modernization package, the government of Japan is asking for 103 Raytheon APG-82(v)1 active electronically scanned array radars; 116 Boeing Advanced Display Core Processor II mission system computers; and 101 BAE Systems ALQ-239 digital electronic warfare systems to be installed in the F-15J fleet.
Ocobter 16/19: Singapore’s Training Program Turns 10 Singapore’s F-15 fighter jet training program in USA’s Idaho turns 10 years old, Defense News reports. In May 2009, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) took delivery of its first F-15SG and, shortly after, inaugurated a detachment based in Idaho, United States. Its aim was to build a critical mass of pilots and engineers capable of flying and maintaining the fourth-generation fighter jet. A decade later, the Peace Carvin Five detachment at Mountain Home Air Force Base has come a long way, validating the capabilities of a fully-fledged fleet and winning awards at high-level multilateral exercises. Singapore commemorated 10 years of its Boeing F-15 training program in the US during an October 11 ceremony, at which officials unveiled new artwork painted on one of the jets. The ceremony was held at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho where the Republic of Singapore Air Force, or RSAF, maintains the Peace Carvin V F-15SG detachment.
September 26/19: EPAWSS The US Air Force awarded Boeing a $22.7 million modification for F-15C and F-15E Mission Training Center. The contract modification is for the implementation of Suite 9.1/Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS) into F-15C and F-15E MTCs in order to update F-15 MTCs with Suite 9.1 and add EPAWSS capabilities to the F-15E MTC simulators. The Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System provides the US Air Force F-15 fleet with advanced electronic warfare technology to maximize mission effectiveness and survivability. The F-15 is an all-weather, day and night, tactical fighter aircraft designed to gain and maintain control over the battlefield. The F-15C aircraft perform air-to-air missions and are part of the Air Superiority portfolio. The purpose of the Air Superiority portfolio is to gain and maintain air dominance across all military operations and threat environments. The F-15 electronic warfare system used 1970s technology which has limited capability to detect, locate, deny, degrade, and disrupt modern and advanced enemy threats. Using the F-15C aircraft without Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System will limit the warfighter’s ability to detect and identify air and ground threats, employ counter-measures, and jam enemy radar signals. Boeing will perform work at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Mountain Home Air Force Base and Nellis Air Force Base as well as Bases in the UK and Japan. Work will be finished by September 23, 2021.
August 30/19: Qatar The US Air Force awarded Boeing a $500 million contract in support of Qatar’s F-15QA. The deal is for Qatar Emiri Air Force (QAEF) aircrew and maintenance training. In 2017, Qatar placed a $12 billion order for 36 of Boeing’s advanced F-15QA heavy strike fighters. These aircraft were designed as advanced derivatives of the F-15E Strike Eagle deployed by the US Air Force, which itself was derived from the F-15C air superiority fighter with a new emphasis on long range and air to ground capabilities. Boeing will perform work under the new contract in St. Louis, Missouri and will move work to Qatar in 2021. Estimated completion is in August 2026.
July 5/19: F-15 off to University The University of Dayton Research Institute won a $28.5 million firm-fixed price contract for studies of the F-15 sustainment engineering. The contract includes systems/structural engineering field and programmed depot maintenance support, reliability and maintainability analysis and aircraft structural integrity program capability development and sustainment. The F-15 Eagle is the Air Force’s primary fighter jet aircraft and intercept platform. The F-15 has electronic systems and weaponry to detect, acquire, track and attack enemy aircraft while operating in friendly or enemy-controlled airspace. The weapons and flight control systems are designed so one person can safely and effectively perform air-to-air combat. Work, performed at Dayton, will approximately be completed by June 28, 2029.
June 10/19: Retrofit The US Air Force awarded Raytheon a $15 million firm-fixed-price modification for retrofitting the F-15 jet fleet with Mode 5 capable Identify Friend or Foe units. Boeing’s F-15 Strike Eagle is a twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter aircraft. Its proven design is unbeatable in air-to-air combat, with more than 100 aerial combat victories. Per the terms of the agreement, Raytheon will offer 196 F-15C/D APX-114 and 196 F-15 C/D APX-119 retrofit units, which provide National Security Agency approved cryptography as well as robust anti-jam interrogation and reply encryption capabilities. Raytheon will perform work in Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland and Largo, Florida and is expected to complete work in December 2021.
May 24/19: Training Center Services The US Air Force awarded Boeing a $41 million contract modification to contractor-furnished, high-fidelity simulation equipment for F-15C and F-15E Mission Training Center Services to offer simulation capability to train pilots and weapons system operators. This modification includes four additional pilot/weapon systems officer crew stations devices and their associated equipment to support aircrew training requirements. Boeing’s F-15 Strike Eagle is a twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter aircraft. It has more than 100 aerial combat victories. F-15C and F-15E are two variants of the F-15 Strike Eagle jet. Boeing will perform work at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and is expected to be finished by February 15, 2021.
May 17/19: Innovative Combat Support The US Air Force has successfully demonstrated a new Combat Support Wing concept during a recent deployment to Kinston Regional Jetport. F-15Es from the 4th Fighter Wing were refueled and rearmed by three teams of airmen who are from different career fields in the service. Weapons loaders showed that they could drive a refueling truck while security forces demonstrated they could refuel the aircraft. Avionics specialists were tasked with base security. The concept supports National Defense Strategy priorities to evolve innovative operational concepts and enhance lethality in contested environments. If fielded, it could give the Air Force the ability to quickly deploy in smaller, more efficient and agile teams to austere and potentially contested areas.
May 14/19: Engineering Services The US Air Force awarded Boeing an $11.2 million contract in support of the F-15. The F-15 Eagle is the Air Force’s primary fighter jet. It has electronic systems and weaponry for detecting, acquiring, tracking and attacking enemy aircraft while operating in either friendly or enemy-controlled airspace. The contract provides for post-production support tasks/services unique to the original equipment manufacturer as required to maintain an adequate level of continuous sustaining engineering and logistics support for the Air Force and Foreign Military Sales. FMS include Saudi Arabia and Israel. Boeing is finishing a major 2009 F-15 order from Saudi Arabia. The Royal Saudi Air Force has the third largest number of F-15s in its fleet, behind Japan and the United States. The USAF has requested $7.8 billion for eight F-15s next year and 72 in the four years after that. Boeing will perform work in St. Louis and is expecting completion by November 9, 2027.
April 10/19: EW Capability Improvement The Air Force awarded Boeing a $91.3 million contract modification for a super high-speed computer intended to improve the F-15’s electronics warfare capability. The modification provides for the production and integration of the Advanced Display Core Processor II (ADCPII) boxes into the F-15 platform. The ADCP II is also known as Suite 9. According to Boeing, it is the world’s fastest flight mission computer, capable of processing up to 87 billion instructions per second. In 2016, the F-15E tested the flight computer during a flight on July 8 at Florida’s Eglin Air Force Base. The ADCP II is part of a wider $12 billion modernization program taking place across the range of Eagle types being flown in the USAF inventory. The F-15 Eagle is a twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter aircraft. It is the Air Force’s primary fighter jet aircraft and intercept platform. The Eagle’s air superiority is achieved through a mixture of unprecedented maneuverability and acceleration, range, weapons and avionics.
March 15/19: Retrofit The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center awarded Raytheon $21.2 million to retrofit the F-15 fleet. The deal provides for retrofitting the F-15 fleets current Identity Friend of Foe Units. Identification Friend or Foe enables military and civilian air traffic control interrogation systems to identify aircraft, vehicles or forces as friendly and to determine their bearing and range from the interrogator. The Units offer Mode 5 capability for the APX-114 and APX-119 on the F-15 models C/D/E via a hardware retrofit and software upgrade. Per the terms of the deal, these units will provide National Security Agency approved cryptography and robust anti-jam interrogation and reply encryption capabilities. The F-15 is a twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter aircraft designed to permit the Air Force to gain and maintain air supremacy over the battlefield. A multi-mission avionics system sets the F-15 apart from other fighter aircraft. It includes a head-up display, advanced radar, inertial navigation system, flight instruments, ultrahigh frequency communications, tactical navigation system and instrument landing system.
March 14/19: Eight F-15EX The US Air Force on Tuesday unveiled a nearly $166 billion budget request for fiscal 2020. The Pentagon plans to buy eight Boeing F-15EX fighters FY 2020 as part of a purchase of 144 total aircraft over an undisclosed number of years. According to the budget request, it will cost $80 million per airframe. However, that cost will rise to approximately $125 million for each of the eight jets to set up the line and account for non-recurring engineering costs in the first year of procurement. The total deal will be priced at more than $1.1 billion and covers production of eight brand-new F-15EX fourth-plus generation fighters. The F-15EX is the latest version of the F-15 Eagle fighter jet. The Eagle is a twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter aircraft that has an all-metal semimonocoque fuselage with a large-cantilever, shoulder-mounted wing.
February 25/19: EPAWSS The US Air Force contracted Boeing with a $24.1 million modification for F-15 Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS) engineering and manufacturing development. The EPAWSS is a program that upgrades F-15 aircraft electronic warfare capabilities to detect and identify air and ground threats, employ counter-measures, and jam enemy radar signals. It has fully integrated radar warning, geo-location, situational awareness, and self-protection solutions to detect and defeat surface and airborne threats in signal-dense contested and highly contested environments. The F-15 Eagle is a twin-engine, tactical fighter aircraft with speed capability of 1,875 miles per hour. The aircraft has an all-metal semimonocoque fuselage with a large-cantilever, shoulder-mounted wing. The contract modification also includes operational test and evaluation and provides for the procurement of hardware and systems engineering program management for the F-15E Operational Test and Evaluation jets. Work will take place in St. Louis, Missouri, and is expected to be finished by June 1, 2021.
January 9/19: F-15 loses canopy during flight test Israel is looking into the loss of a canopy from a Boeing F-15 Eagle Combat aircraft during a training flight at 30,000 feet last week. A twin-seat F-15 ‘Baz’ (Falcon) suffered an explosive canopy separation. The pilots radioed the control tower, slowed their flight, began an orderly descent and landed safely at the Nevatim Airbase east of Beersheba. All training flights on the F-15 are currently on hold. The F-15 Eagle is a twin-engined, all-weather tactical fighter aircraft weighing up to 30 tons. The fighter is armed with air-to-air missiles that can be launched from beyond visual range, and has air-to-ground capability to penetrate hostile air and ground defenses to deliver up to 24,000lb of precision ordnance.
December 6/18: Japan Japan’s planned upgrade of its Boeing F-15 Eagle fighter jets will likely be supported by the US government and Boeing under the Foreign Military Sales process. Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries delivered some 213 license-built F-15 variants the country’s air force between 1981 and 1999. Some 200 remain in service, of which about 88 were continuously upgraded over the past decade, gradually incorporating additional improvements like Link 16. Tokyo now plans to upgrade two of its F-15J/DJ interceptors at a cost of $89 million. According to Defense News, the upcoming upgrades include new electronic warfare equipment, and larger weapon load out – increasing the number of missiles the aircraft can carry – and the integration of the AGM-158 JASSM. Shigeyuki Uno, the principal deputy director of the defense planning and programming division of Japan’s Ministry of Defense, also told Defense News that the F-15s radar will also be upgraded, which will likely involve the AN/APG-63(V)3 or the AN/APG-63(V)1, both are AESA radars produced by Raytheon. Japan’s midterm defense program guidelines, to be released by the end of 2018, are expected to provide more details on this program, including the number of F-15s Japan plans to upgrade.
November 28/18: Qatar The Qatar Emiri Air Force expects to receive its first batch of F-15QA fighter jets by March 2021. This will be the first batch of the 36 unit order, with the remainder to be delivered in batches of four every three months. Qatar’s new F-15s will come with a totally remodeled cockpit featuring large panel touch screen displays and a new HUD display. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Affairs Dr. Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah inaugurated the F-15QA production line at Boeing’s St. Louis factory in August 2018. Qatar’s $12 billion F-15 order is part of a general drive to strengthen the country’s air power, which also includes the purchase of 12 Dassault Rafales and 24 Eurofighter Typhoons.
November 22/18: Israel The Israel Air Force (IAF) is set to acquire upgraded F-15s to supplement its fleet of F-35 ‘Adir’ fighter aircraft. The squadron of F-15IAs will include certain stealth capabilities, such as radar-absorbing paint and internal weapons carriage. The fighter jets will be capable of carrying 11 missiles, in addition to 28 heavy, smart bombs for ground targets. Other additions include Raytheon’s AN/APG-63(V)3 AESA radar, a long-range infrared search and track (IRST) sensor system, allowing for a “first sigh-first shot-first kill” capability and a helmet cueing system. With this upcoming purchase, Israel will be the third Middle-Eastern country to do so. Both Saudi Arabia and Qatar have ordered their respective SA and QA variants which are the most advanced Eagles in the world. However experts say that Israel’s Eagle will be even more capable and advanced than the others. The upcoming deal marks the first Boeing fighter jet acquisition by the Israeli Air Force in two decades, with the first F-15IA expected to arrive in Israel as soon as 2023. The IDF says the new F-15 will not completely replace the F-35 stealth fighter, but is intended to reinforce the systems currently in place to enhance the range of capabilities to an optimal position vis-à-vis its missions—from Iran to Gaza.
November 5/18: Saudi maintenance Boeing is being tapped to continue maintenance support for the Royal Saudi Air Force’s fleet of F-15 fighter aircraft. The company is being awarded with a $14.6 million contract that sees for the sustainment of the Aircraft Maintenance Debrief System (AMDS). The F-15 is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to achieve aerial superiority in combat situations. The contract allows Boeing to provide trained personnel to use and maintain AMDS equipment at six locations throughout Saudi Arabia. The company’s staff also train RSAF members on how to operate and maintain the equipment. Work will be performed at multiple locations in Saudi Arabia and is expected to run through November 4, 2023.
October 4/18: QEAF Pilot Training Boeing is being contracted to support the training of future Qatar Emiri Air Force pilots. The company will provide Qatar with F-15QA aircrew and maintenance courseware at a cost of $30 million. This includes syllabi, a student tracking system and the overall program management needed to train the country’s future F-15QA pilots. Production of the new F-15s started in August and will run through to at least 2022. Qatar ordered a total of 36 fighter jets at a cost of $12 billion. Work will be performed at Boeing’s location in St. Louis, Missouri, and is expected to be completed Dec. 28, 2020.
September 27/18: Saudi Arabia General Electric is being contracted to keep the Royal Saudi Air Force’s Strike Eagles flying. The company will provide the RSAF with F110-129 engine consumables, spares, war-readiness spare kits, and support equipment. The deal falls under the US FMS program and is priced at $58.6 million. The F-15SAs are currently the most advanced F-15 Eagles on the planet. In 2015 Saudi Arabia ordered 84 new build F-15SAs and close to 70 kits to upgrade their existing F-15S fleet to the SA configuration. GE’s F110-129 two-spool afterburning turbofan engine delivers of to 29,000 pounds of thrust and powers more than 75% of US Air Force single-engine F-16s. Work will be performed at GE’s factory in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is expected to be completed by September, 2020.
August 28/18: Legion Pod The US Air Force plans to integrate a new IRST system on its fleet of F-15C aircraft. Boeing will provide the Air Force with engineering, manufacturing, and development efforts of the F-15 Legion Pod. The contract has a value of $208.2 million and will run through November 2020. The Legion Pod is being developed in conjunction with Lockheed Martin. The pod features Lockheed’s IRST21 infrared sensor and advanced data processing capabilities. This multi-function sensor system has been designed to provide long-range detection and tracking of airborne threats in radar-denied environments. The common interface of the Legion pod allows it to be easily integrated onto any aircraft without affecting the aircraft’s operational flight programme. Work will bet performed at Boeing’s facilities on St. Louis, Missouri and Orlando, Florida.
August 6/18: Qatari production line Boeing is currently in the process of manufacturing several F-15 fighter jets for Qatar. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Affairs Dr. Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah recently inaugurated the F-15QA production line at the company’s plant in Missouri. Qatar’s new F-15s will come with a totally remodeled cockpit featuring large panel touch screen displays and a new HUD display developed by BAE systems. The F-15QA, is identical to the F-15SA that Boeing is building for the Royal Saudi Air Force. It has a fly-by-wire flight control system, digital electronic warfare (EW) suite, an infrared search and track (IRST) system, and the Raytheon APG-63(v)3 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. In a typical escort configuration, the Advanced Eagle can carry 16 AIM-120 AMRAAM, four AIM-9X Sidewinder short-range missiles; and two High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles. Neither the Qatari MoD nor Boeing disclosed when deliveries of the F-15 (Qatar Advanced) Eagle will begin, but it has been disclosed that they will run through to the end of 2022. The Middle-Eastern nation ordered a total of 36 fighter jets at a cost of $12 billion.
July 30/18: A squadron for Israel The Israeli Air Force is currently in negotiations with Boeing regarding a deal with a potential value of up to $11 billion. This deal would be the IAF’s largest-ever acquisition, considerably boosting its mobility and strike capabilities. Israel Hayom daily reports that the deal includes a squadron of F-15 jets with upgraded stealth features, a squadron of transport helicopters and KC-46 tanker aircraft. Israel’s outdated CH-53 Sea Stallions will likely be replaced by CH-47 Chinooks and V-22 Ospreys. The purchase will be funded from US military aid money, which comes to some $3.8 billion annually, over the next decade as the new planes and helicopters are delivered. If the deal goes through and Israel returns to purchasing F-15s, it would mark the first Boeing fighter jet acquisition by the Israeli Air Force in two decades. In the years since, Israel has bought 100 F-16s and another 50 F-35 stealth jets from Boeing’s chief competitor, Lockheed Martin.
July 13/18: Saudi support The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is set to receive support for its F-15 Fleet Modernization program as part of a US foreign military sale. Titan LSC has been awarded a $68.4 million indefinite-delivery-requirements contract that provides for the acquisition of various different commercial vehicles and trailers in support of the RSAF program. Titan will facilitate delivery to the Dhahran Supply Depot at King Abdul Aziz Air Base and maintain operations in the Dammam Metropolitan Area in Saudi Arabia as a liaison for the operation. In October 2010 Saudi Arabia negotiated a $30-60 billion arms package with the USA including an order of 84 F-15 Strike Eagles. Work will be performed at Titan LSC, Amman, Jordan, and in the subcontractor’s facility in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The contract is expected to be completed by July 10, 2021.
July 3/18: Vertical stabilizers The Air Force is contracting Boeing in support of its F-15 fleet. The firm-fixed-price contract provides for the production of F-15 vertical stabilizers and is valued at $23.6 million. The F-15A reached initial operational capability for the US Air Force in September 1975, and approximately 670 F-15s remain in the USAF’s inventory. Vertical stabilizers serve two basic purposes: flight stability and aircraft attitude alteration in yaw direction (i.e. yawing the aircraft left or right). In addition, they provide perfect mounting place for RWR and ECM antennae (located on the top of each stabilizers). Location of performance is at the company’s location in Missouri and is scheduled for completion by May 31, 2022.
April 03/18: AESA orders for USAF Boeing has been awarded a modification to a previously awarded contract for the US Air Force’s F-15 Fighter Modernization Program (RMP) radar upgrades. The contract is valued at over $187 million. It provides for work on 29 Group A and Group B kits, spares, fuel tanks and other equipment and services. The F-15A reached initial operational capability for the US Air Force in September 1975, and approximately 670 F-15s remain in the USAF’s inventory. Current F-15 flying locations include bases in the continental United States, Alaska, England, Hawaii, Japan and the Middle East. The RMP development and testing began in January 2011. The RMP replaces the F-15 legacy APG-70 mechanically scanned radar with an AESA system designated APG-82(V) and is designed to retain functionality of the legacy radar system while providing expanded mission employment capabilities including longer air-to-air target selection and enhanced task capabilities and enhanced air-to-ground and air-to-air combat identification capabilities. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Missouri, and is scheduled for completion in April 2022.
February 26/18: New wing for Qatar’s FMS F-15QA fighter aircraft being produced for Qatar will come with a newly designed wing, as manufacturer Boeing prepares to offer the design option for any future structural upgrades ordered for the US Air Force’s F-15Cs. Speaking to Flight Global, Steve Parker, Boeing’s vice-president of F-15 programs said the QA variant introduces a number of previously-announced features, including an advanced cockpit system with a large format display, and that the redesigned wing will strengthen the internal structure of the fighter without changing its aerodynamics. If the USAF decide to keep its F-15Cs flying for another two decades, the new features will be offered as part of any service life extension work ordered, and could also be offered to any other operators of F-15 aircraft, such as Japan.
June 16/17: Despite a spat with its Arab neighbors amid claims they were funding terrorism, Qatar has completed negotiations with Boeing to move ahead with a purchase of 36 F-15QA fighter aircraft. Qatari Defense Minister Khalid Al-Attiyah was in Washington to sign the $12 billion Foreign Military Sale agreement with his counterpart Jim Mattis, and could be extended to cover a total of 72 planes at a cost of approximately $21 billion. The move may confuse Washington’s allies in the region, after President Trump has initially sent a series of tweets that appeared to take credit for and praise the decision when Saudi Arabia and several Arab countries cut off ties with Qatar. “The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level,” Trump said in a speech at the White House last week. “We ask Qatar, and other nations in the region to do more and do it faster.
March 19/17: The Israeli Air Force is considering a procurement of advanced F-15 jets from Boeing instead of purchasing additional F-35s. Tel Aviv will evaluate and consider this advanced version, capable of carrying more missiles and potentially in line with Boeing’s suggested 2040 configuration, and could order as many as 20-25 aircraft to augment its F-35 fleet. At present, the IAF has plans for a 50-strong F-35I fleet.
December 12/16: Engineers from Boeing have been working on USAF F-15Es, replacing old APG-70 radars with the state-of-the-art APG-82 AESA radar. The work has been underway since September on planes located at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. Dubbed as the RMP Eagle modernization program, more than 90 jets will receive the overhaul which is expected to be completed within the next seven to nine years.
November 7/16: Boeing landed a $479 million USAF contract for engineering, manufacturing, and development of the Eagle Passive/Active Warning and Survivability System for the F-15 Eagle fighter jet. The system will provide advanced aircraft protection, significantly improved situational awareness and support for future F-15 mission requirements, replacing the jet’s Tactical Electronic Warfare Suite and keeping the aging aircraft in scheduled service through 2040. As 413 F-15Cs and F-15Es will be upgraded under the program, the expected costs may run to $7.6 billion.
October 12/16: The USAF has tasked Boeing with selecting a supplier for a $198 million upgrade of the F-15C/D which will allow the fighter to detect at long range the heat generated by an aircraft engine. After selecting the infrared search and track (IRST) sensor supplier, Boeing will be tasked with integrating the pod with the F-15’s other systems, including the Raytheon-supplied active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. By delegating such work, the USAF avoids giving losing bidders a chance to protest Boeing’s decision to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO).
September 19/16: A recently released White House fact sheet on US military aid has revealed that Israel is to get ten F-15Ds under the excess defense articles program. Eight F-15s have been delivered so far, and are primarily used as a training aircraft but can also take part in air-to-air combat. Other excess articles given by the Obama administration to Israel include several Lockheed Martin C-130 cargo aircraft, AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and joint direct attack munitions.
May 2/16: USAF’s fleet of more than 500 F-15s are to get a wheel and brake upgrade after successful flight testing. Once completed, F-15C/D/E fighters will be capable of undertaking 1,400 landings before having to swap out their brakes. The USAF stands to save over $194 million in F-15 maintenance costs once all of the aircraft are fitted with the upgrade, and this will be the first brake testing to be carried out on the jet since the 1980s.
May 26/09:Aviation Week reports that the USAF is looking into the possibility of a Service Life Extension Program for its F-15A-D fleet, designed to increase their service lives from 8,000 flight hours to 12,000.
The move is driven, in part, by the impending collapse of Air National Guard wings that can be used in domestic air sovereignty patrols, as older fighters retire and are not replaced. The USAF is accelerating the retirement of 250 F-16 and F-15 fighters in FY 2010, and current plans calls for 2 ANG air sovereignty mission units to get F-22s, 4 to get receive upgraded F-15A-Ds, and the remaining 12 are yet to be determined.
March 22/08: Maj. Stephen Stilwell, a pilot for Southwest Airlines whose Missouri Air National Guard F-15C’s mid-air crackup began the fleet groundings, has filed suit in U.S. District Court against claiming Boeing Corp. His injuries left him with a 10-inch metal plate in the injured arm and shoulder, and he reports that he has suffered from chronic pain since the accident.
Stilwell’s suit, filed by attorney Morry S. Cole, says that Boeing knew or should have know that the F-15 as manufactured allowed and permitted for catastrophic flight break-up, and adds that Boeing failed to notify the Air Force and Missouri Air National Guard of “the likelihood of excess stress concentrations, fatigue cracking, structural failure and in-flight aircraft break up as a result of the structural deficiencies.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
February 2008: The largest effects of the F-15 fleet’s grounding may yet play out on the procurement front. If many of the USAF’s F-15s, which were supposed to serve until 2025 or so, must be retired, how should they be replaced? Read “Aging F-15s: Ripples Hitting the F-22, F-35 Programs.”
Jan 21/08: This week’s edition of the “Today’s Air Force” show highlights how the Air Force carried on its mission while more than 700 of its F-15 Eagles were grounded. See “The Eagle flies once again!” on the Pentagon Channel, American Forces Radio and Television Service stations around the world, and video podcast [30 minutes].
Jan 14/08: Officials begin flight operations again as 39 of the 18th Wing F-15C/Ds at Kadena Air Base, Japan are cleared to fly again after remaining on the ground for more than 2 months as a result of a fleet-wide stand-down. See USAF story.
Jan 10/08: According to the Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board report released on this day. Their conclusion? The plane was simply too old:
“…a technical analysis of the recovered F-15C wreckage determined that the longeron didn’t meet blueprint specifications. This defect led to a series of fatigue cracks in the right upper longeron. These cracks expanded under life cycle stress, causing the longeron to fail, which initiated a catastrophic failure of the remaining support structures and led to the aircraft breaking apart in flight… the pilot’s actions during the mishap sequence were focused, precise and appropriate. The pilot’s actions did not contribute to the mishap, said Colonel Wignall. In addition, a thorough review of local maintenance procedures revealed no problems or adverse trends which could have contributed to the accident.”
Col. William Wignall, the head of the accident investigation added that:
“We’ve had great involvement from Boeing during the investigation. In fact, they’re the ones who determined the longeron was the problem. This was then confirmed by the Air Force Research Laboratory.”
Jan 9/08: Air Combat Command officials clear 60% of the F-15A-D fleet for flying status, and recommends a limited return to flight for those planes that have cleared all inspections. The decision follows detailed information briefed on Jan 4/08 to Air Combat Command from the Air Force’s F-15 systems program manager, senior engineers from Boeing and the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center; as well as a briefing received on Jan 9/08 from the Accident Investigation Board president.
The USAF report describes inspections as “more than 90% complete,” with remaining inspections focusing primarily on the forward longerons. Thus far, 9 other F-15s have been found with longeron fatigue-cracks, and almost 40% of inspected aircraft have at least 1 longeron that is thinner than blueprint specifications. ACC believes each affected F-15 will have to be analyzed to determine if there is sufficient strength in the non-specification longeron, and this analysis will take place at the Warner-Robbins Air Logistics Center over the next 4 weeks. A number of F-15s are scheduled to be retired in 2009, and calculating the cost of fixes and airframe life of fixed aircraft could have a substantial bearing on the size of the USAF’s future F-15 fleet.
Meanwhile, the 2-month grounding, which has been the longest of any USAF jet fighter, is a gift that keeps on giving. Fully 75% of US Air Force and Air National Guard F-15A-D pilots have lost their currency status for solo flight, and another week would have made it 100%. Instructor pilots have retained their currency and will begin flying F-15B/Ds with the other pilots, so the pilots can land the plane and regain their status. This will be followed by further pilot training, which is required to regain operational proficiency status. USAF report | Flight International.
F-15C CAP(Combat Air Patrol)
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Dec 27/07:The Associated Press details some of the ripple effects created by the F-15 A-D grounding. With the F-15s in Massachusetts out of commission, the Vermont Air National Guard (ANG) is covering the whole Northeast. The Oregon ANG’s fighters are grounded, so the California Air National Guard is standing watch for the entire West Coast plus slices of Arizona and Nevada. To meet that need, the Fresno, CA based 144th Fighter Wing has had to borrow F-16s from bases in Indiana and Arizona and trim back training.
The Minnesota ANG is manning sites in Hawaii, while the Illinois ANG covers Louisiana. In Alaska, the new F-22 Raptors are stepping in – and so are Canadian CF-18s, which have intercepted several Russian bombers near Alaska in recent weeks.
Dec 10/07: The F-15 A-Ds remain grounded. A USAF update informs us that throughout the Air Force, maintainers have found cracks in the upper longerons of 8 F-15s so far: 4 from Air National Guard 173rd Fighter Wing, Kingsley Field, OR; 2 from USAF 18th Wing, Kadena Air Base, Japan; 1 from 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall AFB, FL; and 1 from ANG 131st Fighter Wing, St. Louis, MO.
Inspections are underway using previous methods, until the Warner Robins ALC develops new ones for the fleet. After the area’s paint is stripped and bare metal is exposed, Airmen apply chemicals that reveal cracks under a black light. “Other inspections in hard-to-see areas are done with a boar scope [sic… maybe they mean “borescope”?] – a tool that uses a tiny camera and fits in tight areas.” Inspection time per aircraft is 12.5 to over 20 hours, and the 2-seat B and D models are more time consuming because the rear seat must be removed to access the upper longerons. USAF story.
UPDATE from USAF: “Yes, other readers pointed that out as well (although yours was the funniest). The story was corrected…”
Dec 3/07: It’s now official. Gen. John D.W. Corley, the commander of Air Combat Command orders the stand-down of all ACC F-15 A-Ds until further notice, and recommends the same for all other branches of the USAF. The stand-down does not affect the F-15E Strike Eagle and its variants abroad.
Technical experts with the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins Air Force Base, GA are developing a specific inspection technique for the suspect area, based on the recent findings. However, unlike previous inspections, the inspected aircraft will not be returned to flight until the F-15 A-D model findings and data have been analyzed, required inspections have been accomplished, and the necessary repair or mitigation actions have been completed. To date, longeron cracks have been discovered in an additional 4 aircraft. USAF release.
F-15E: Mission executed.
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Nov 28/07: The accident investigation board (AIB) report leads to the recommended re-grounding of the USAF F-15 A-D fleet, and almost certainly those of other countries as well. The new AIB findings have drawn attention to the F-15’s upper longerons near the canopy of the aircraft, which appear to have cracked and failed. Longerons connect the aircraft’s metal ‘skin’ to the frame, and run along the length and side of the aircraft. In addition to the AIB’s conclusions, manufacturer simulations have indicated that a catastrophic failure could result from such cracks, which were also discovered along the same longeron area during 2 recent inspections of F-15C aircraft.
The commander of Air Combat Command has recommended the stand-down of all F-15 A-D model aircraft across the US military, and ordered a renewed fleet-wide inspection of all ACC F-15 A-D model aircraft using a very specific inspection technique for the suspect area. The multi-role 2-seat F-15E Strike Eagles, which were manufactured later and had several design changes made, remain exempt from these cautions and exceptions. USAF article.
“The cause of the mishap remains under investigation… At the same time, structural engineers have conducted in-depth technical reviews of data from multiple sources… First, we focused on the F-15Es. They are… structurally different than the A-D models. Problems identified during years of A-D model usage were designed “out” of the E-model… Next, we concentrated on the remainder of the grounded fleet. The AIB(Accident Investigation Board) is now focused on the area just aft of the cockpit and slightly forward of the inlets. Warner Robins ALC mandated a thorough inspection and repair of all structural components in this area. I have directed each F-15 aircraft be inspected and cleared before returning to operational status. Today, ACC issued (a flight crew information file) and Warner Robins ALC issued an Operational Supplemental Tech Order to further direct and guide your pre-flight and post-flight actions.”
There are 666 F-15s in the Air Force inventory. As of this day, 219 of the 224 E-models and 294 of the 442 A-D models in the USAF’s inventory have been inspected and re-cleared for flight.
Nov 19/07: Shortly after becoming the first deployed F-15E unit in the Air Force to return to full operational capability following the Air Force’s fleet-wide grounding of the aircraft, the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron at Bagram AFB, Afghanistan, began the move from 5-7 day phase inspections every 200 flight hours, to a phase inspection every 400 flight hours. This change isn’t slated for implementation until 2008, but it’s being implemented early at Bagram AFB to keep more F-15Es in the air and meet mission demands.
The USAF says that its engineers at the Warner-Robins Air Force Base Air Logistics Center, GA looked carefully at all the data after years of F-15E analysis and testing, before approving the change. USAF release.
Nov 15/07:A USAF release says that an order issued by Air Combat Command’s Commander Gen. John Corley on Nov 11/07 mandates a 13-hour Time-Compliance Technical Order (TCTO) on location for each of the USAF’s F-15E Strike Eagles, to inspect hydraulic system lines, the fuselage structure, and structure-related panels. Aircraft that pass this inspection may return to flight status, and similar procedures are likely to be underway for Israel’s F-15Is. ACC Combat Aircraft Division chief Col. Frederick Jones said that this was possible because:
“We were able to determine, based on initial reports from an engineering analysis, that the F-15E is not susceptible to the same potential cause of the Missouri mishap.”
The TCTO inspection is designed to confirm the engineering analysis, and aircraft deployed the CENTCOM has apparently completed inspections and returned to flying status. This still leaves 2/3 of the USAF’s F-15 fleet grounded, however, as the F-15A-D models remain under suspicion. The F-15Es are about 15 years old on average, but the F-15A-D models were introduced earlier. Maj. Gen. David Gillett, ACC director of Logistics said that:
“What we’ve got here is an example in the C model of what happens when you have an airplane that’s about 25 years old… What you find is that it becomes more and more expensive to modify [the F-15 airframe] over time… Our costs have gone up 87 percent in the last five years and continue to rise rapidly. Even when you invest in an old airframe – you still have an old airframe.”