South Korea should conclude a deal on a follow-on batch of 20 Boeing F-15K multirole fighters within around the next month, says F-15 programme director Steve Winkler, while the manufacturer believes other potential fresh orders from existing Eagle users Japan, Saudi Arabia and Singapore could extend production of the type beyond 2012.
Boeing has now delivered 32 F-15Ks from a 40-strong order worth $4.2 billion, with the rest to follow by late this year. Although Seoul held an original requirement for 120 F-X fighters, Winkler expects any additional future deal to be subject to a fresh competition, potentially starting around 2009-10.
Highlighting the US Air Force’s long-term commitment to support operations of 178 single-seat F-15Cs until 2025 and 224 two-seat Es until 2035, Winkler says the service’s planned integration of technologies such as an active electronically scanned array radar and digital electronic warfare equipment could match “the sort of configuration that we would offer in Japan.” Other possible future enhancements to the design could include improvements in areas such as avionics, radar cross-section and weapon systems, he adds.
Boeing will make a decision on whether to offer Tokyo an F-15 variant or its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet as a McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom replacement once a request for proposals – potentially to be for around 50 aircraft for delivery from 2012-13 – is issued from later this year, says Winkler.
Meanwhile, Boeing expects to conduct the first flight of an F-15SG for Singapore before year-end, with the aircraft – the first of 24 currently on order for the nation – scheduled for delivery in early 2009. “We look forward to seeing if more aircraft are in the mix for them,” says Winkler.
The USAF earlier this month approved all but nine of its A-D-model F-15s for a return to service, after inspecting the fleet for possible longeron cracks identified following the loss of an F-15C during a training flight late last year. “We think we’re alright now,” says Winkler.