Boeing is poised to launch a new series of ground, windtunnel and flight tests on several key features of the F-15 Silent Eagle proposed for South Korea's competitive F-X III contract.
Windtunnel tests will start by March or April on a scale model of the F-15SE with conformal weapons bays, said Howard Berry, Boeing vice-president for sales. The weapons bays, which are modified conformal fuel tanks, allow the F-15 to store weapons internally and lower the aircraft's profile to radars.
Boeing has already flown an F-15E demonstrator with conformal weapons bays
Flight testing will begin late in the fourth quarter of 2012 or early next year of an "advanced international F-15", Berry said. The new-build test aircraft will feature the cockpit systems, digital electronic warfare system and sensors unveiled with the Silent Eagle concept in March 2009 (below).
Boeing will also start windtunnel tests to determine the aerodynamic performance of various angles for the Silent Eagle's proposed canted vertical tails, Berry said.
The company's original concept featured tails canted at 15º as a stealth technique. The canted tails allow the aircraft to bank up to 15º on either side without presenting a 90º angle to airborne radars.
As an unexpected bonus, the canted tails also slightly improved the aerodynamic performance of the aircraft, Boeing said.
The forthcoming tests are aimed at preparing the Silent Eagle to be ready to enter service in 2016 for South Korea.
Seoul is expected to release a request for proposals for the F-X III requirement in the near future. A contract award for up to 62 aircraft is expected in October. Boeing is likely to face competition from the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Lockheed Martin F-35.