Boeing is preserving sufficient long lead items to produce a further six F-15s for the US Air Force in anticipation of a US Congressionally mandated order, after a $270 million write-off on unused equipment. The USAF is also being briefed on a proposed low-cost F-15 development.

The US Congress is due to decide shortly on whether to fund additional F-15Es in Fiscal Year 2000. The House Appropriations Committee has requested $220 million for four aircraft ,while the Senate Appropriations Committee is seeking eight.

Boeing has put aside material for six F-15Es out of 24 aircraft it had hoped to sell to Greece, which instead ordered more Lockheed Martin F-16s and Eurofighters.

"If they approve it, we're hopeful of long lead funding for follow-on production," says Michael Marks, Boeing vice-president USAF bomber and fighter programmes. "There is still a need for E versions as they are the most heavily tasked aircraft in the air force." Production will shut down in January next year with the delivery of the last F-15 on order to the USAF. If Congressional funding is forthcoming, the St Louis line could reopen in the first quarter of 2001. Boeing will try in the interim to retain a small core of staff to support future low rate production.

Boeing's offer to the USAF is based on a "21st century F-15" first offered to Israel. It would use the improved Raytheon APG-63(V)1 radar, digital flight controls, an auxiliary power unit and life cycle cost reduction improvements.

Boeing is pushing the new aircraft as anF-15E replacement and to equip the Air National Guard with a precision strike aircraft.

Reopening the line is critical if Boeing is to compete for South Korea's F-X requirement for 40 future fighters.

Source: Flight International