Boeing has disavowed an executive's statement at a show news conference that questioned the company's internal financial commitment to its high-profile F-15 Silent Eagle programme.

The company on 17 June issued a statement that "reaffirmed" its commitment to a flight-test programme for a more stealthy version of the venerable F-15E, and scheduled the flight trials to launch in the third quarter of 2010.

The statement came a day after Tom Bell, Boeing vice-president for business development, said categorically that the company had withheld funding for the F-15SE flight test programme next year, pending a business case review within the next four months.

"We're not at a point [on the F-15SE] where we have a definitive path forward," he said.

 F-15 Silent Eagle
 © Boeing

But by the end of the week, Boeing's ricocheting statements seemed to put the programme's status back where it had begun: as one of the company's top investment priorities.

"We know from talking with current international F-15 operators that they are very interested in the capabilities of the Silent Eagle," says Jim Albaugh, Boeing's president of Integrated Defense Systems.

"Making this commitment to get the programme through to a flight demonstration will ultimately help international customers understand how this aircraft meets their need for a flexible, long-range, large-payload, high-speed, multirole strike fighter with reduced observability."

Boeing rolled out the F-15SE in mid-March without a customer, using a cosmetically modified, company-owned F-15E testbed.

The configuration introduces a canted tail and a new internal weapons bay based on a modified conformal fuel tank. It is also proposing to introduce fly-by-wire flight controls and a BAE Systems digital electronic warfare system.

Bell confirms that Boeing is in talks with Raytheon about the option of integrating a new active electronically scanned array radar designated the APG-82. That would provide export customers of the F-15SE with the same radar system selected for the US Air Force's F-15E radar modernisation programme.

Bell also sought to lower expectations for the F-15SE's frontal aspect radar cross-section characteristics, noting: "Until we get one on the pole and do the studies, that's all theoretical at this point."

Source: Flight International