USAF prepares upgrade strategy for F-15E fleet

Washington DC
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Boeing confirms that its single-largest customer for the F-15E, the US Air Force, is finalising a new, long-term upgrade "roadmap" for the multirole fighter.

The ongoing initiative by the Air Combat Command, which is scheduled to be complete in July, is aimed at improving the F-15E's avionics and "supportability", says Mark Bass, Boeing's vice-president for F-15 programmes. That timing will allow the USAF to propose the roadmap for budget approval starting in fiscal year 2012.

The USAF has meanwhile been briefed about the F-15 "Silent Eagle", Boeing's newly unveiled F-15E development featuring a reduced head-on radar cross section, BAE Systems digital electronic warfare suite (DEWS) and vertical stabilisers canted by 15°.

However, Boeing offered the briefing only as a courtesy, as the aircraft is focused primarily on the international market. The USAF "thinks it's a very good fit for the international market", says Bass.

boeing f-15 strike eagle 
 © USAF

Separately, Boeing has also presented additional details about BAE's DEWS equipment to the USAF, Bass says, with the design - which includes an integrated radar jammer and radar warning receiver (RWR) - is among the F-15E upgrades under review by the service.

BAE confirms that the DEWS package is derived from the EW suite designed for the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, using a modular software architecture system called Barracuda. A key feature of the system is an interleaving mode that allows the pilot to continue jamming while simultaneously operating the radar and RWR.

The USAF plans to continue operating at least 200 F-15Es until 2035. But upgrade proposals, including digital avionics and towed decoys, have faced budget pressure from the USAF's strategy to buy a full complement of fifth-generation fighters.

Last year, the USAF awarded Boeing a contract to launch a radar modernisation programme for the F-15E, which upgrades the type's radar with Raytheon's APG-63(V)3 active electronically scanned array.