Boeing has unveiled an improved export version of the F-15E Strike Eagle which is being offered to the South Korean air force to meet its long-standing F-X fighter requirement.

The F-15K incorporates a range of avionics and sensor enhancements already being developed or planned by the USAF for its F-15Es and single-seat F-15C air superiority fighter. South Korea will also have the option of an uprated engine and customised weapons.

South Korea is due shortly to begin a flight evaluation of a USAF F-15E. A 12-man team is also assessing the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and Sukhoi Su-37.

Boeing's proposal includes the Raytheon APG-63(V1) radar, an improved multimode version of the F-15E's APG-70. The system includes ground moving target tracking, sea surface search and enhanced high resolution mapping.

The APG-63(V1) forms the basis of the USAF's planned Active Electronically Scanned Antenna (AESA) with the addition of a beam steering computer and new array. AESA has not been released for South Korea but "we'll see if we can get a licence," says Mike Ridnouer, F-15 business development head.

Other new sensors include either the uprated Lockheed Martin LANTIRN 2000 or the USAF's yet-to-be-selected third generation navigation and targeting pod. It will also incorporate an infrared search and track system, VSI Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System, datalink and a new two-man cockpit with seven 150mm x 150mm (6 x 6in) liquid crystal displays.

Other improvements include upgrading the Sanders radar warning receiver to the ALR-56C(V1) with faster processing and improved reliability and the Northrop Grumman ALQ-135M internal jammer and repackaged ALE-47 countermeasures dispenser.

South Korea has the choice of the F-15E's incumbent Pratt & Whitney F100-229, General Electric F110-129 or the uprated F110-132, ordered by the United Arab Emirates for the Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 60, but downrated to 29,000lb (129kN) thrust.

South Korea is Boeing's best chance to keep the F-15 in production beyond the Congressionally-funded 10 F-15s for the USAF, the last of which will be delivered in August 2004. The $4 billion F-X programme calls for the first of 40 fighters to enter service in 2004 with an option for 40 more.

Source: Flight International