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USAF starts flight tests on F-15E with AESA radar

The US Air Force has started a three-year flight-test campaign for a new active electronically scanned array (AESA) designed for the Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle.

The first Raytheon APG-82(V)1 was flown aboard an F-15E at Eglin AFB in Florida on 18 January. The same aircraft was pictured (below) also carrying an infrared search and track pod and the Lockheed Martin Sniper targeting pod during the maiden flight.

© Samuel King Jr/US Air Force

The AESA enhancement represents a key upgrade for the USAF's F-15Es. A US Government Accountability Office report last August warned that portions of the F-15E fleet could be grounded in 2014 if the new radar is delayed.

US Air Force officials also want to improve the F-15's capabilities as the power of AESA radar spreads around the world. The APG-82(V)1 is adapted from the back-end processor of the APG-79 installed on the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the front-end array of the APG-63(V)3 radar on some F-15Cs.

The new radar is also combined with other major upgrades, such as integrating the joint helmet mounted cueing system. About 220 F-15Es will be upgraded and preserved through 2035 as the USAF's front-line multi-role fighter.

The USAF has chosen not to participate in Boeing's plan to add other upgrades to the F-15E, including stealth treatments, a conformal weapons bay and a digital electronic warfare system.

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