FIRST FLIGHT OF THE BOEING F-15EX
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI – The Boeing F-15EX took off for the first time for its inaugural flight on February 2, 2021, DefenseNews reported. The F-15EX should initially conduct its first flight on February 1, but was canceled due to weather conditions. This milestone will allow Boeing to deliver the first 2 planes to the USAF by the end of March, 2021.
Boeing test pilot Matt ‘Phat’ Giese took off from Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Missouri at approximately 1:57 PM (EST), after a couple of hours of delays due to weather. The flight lasted for about 90 minutes, and the fighter jet performed as expected, Boeing said in a news release.
“Today’s successful flight proves the jet’s safety and readiness to join our nation’s fighter fleet,” Prat Kumar – Boeing vice president and F-15 program manager – said. “Our workforce is excited to build a modern fighter aircraft for the U.S. Air Force. Our customer can feel confident in its decision to invest in this platform that is capable of incorporating the latest advanced battle management systems, sensors and weapons due to the jet’s digital airframe design and open mission systems architecture.”
With the aging USAF and ANG’s fleet of 70s/80s-era F-15C/D jets, there was a need to either conduct an expensive upgrade or buy new planes to replace the old jets. Due to the high F-35 operations and sustainment costs, CAPE (Defense Department’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office) officials said that buying an upgraded version of the F-15E Strike Eagle – including new features developed primarily at the cost of foreign customers like Saudi Arabia and Qatar – would be a better option to save costs.
The USAF first added the F-15EX to its fiscal 2020 budget and placed its first order for the first 8 F-15EX jets in July 2020 with a value not to exceed about $1.2 billion. The entire program has a max value of $23 billion.
The upgraded F-15 include a host of modern features, like Honeywell’s ADCP-II mission computer, the BAE Systems’ Eagle Passive/Active Warning and Survivability System (EPAWSS) electronic warfare system, the Raytheon Technologies’ AN/APG-82 radar, fly-by-wire flight controls, and a digital cockpit.
The USAF expects to purchase at least 144 F-15EX aircraft, with an option in the contract for up to 200 jets.
More info on F-15EX: https://www.boeing.com/defense/f-15ex/
(Head image: © Boeing)