WASHINGTON – The US Air Force’s new F-15EX variant will be called Eagle II, the service said on Wednesday.
Lt. Gen. Duke Richardson, the service’s most senior uniformed acquisition official. announced the official designation at a launch and naming ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
In total, the service plans to purchase at least 144 F-15EX to replace the F-15C / D fleet, which has an average age of 37 and is starting to experience structural stress. The entire Air National Guard F-15C / D fleet will be replaced by F-15EX or F-35A, said Lt. Gen. Mike Loh, director of the Air National Guard.
The F-15EX includes a series of upgrades over the older F-15C Eagle and F-15E Strike Eagle models, including the Eagle Passive / Active Warning and Survivability System, the most advanced digital cockpit ADCP-II Honeywell mission computer and electric flight controls.
Most important is the aircraft’s open architecture backbone, which will allow the service to quickly update the aircraft and add new capabilities, said Richardson.
Because many new EX model systems were already in production for F-15 customers like Qatar or Saudi Arabia, the Air Force was able to skip a long period of development. Ultimately, the program went from awarding the contract to delivering the first plane in about nine months, according to Richardson.
“I would say it was a long day in coming, but it actually came to fruition very quickly from an acquisition standpoint,” he said.
The F-15EX made its maiden flight Feb. 2 at Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Missouri. A month later, on March 10, Boeing delivered the first aircraft to the Air Force, which is currently subjecting the aircraft to operational tests at Eglin.
The Air Force placed its first order for the F-15EX in July 2020, awarding a contract for the first batch of eight jets valued at no more than about $ 1.2 billion. All of these planes are expected to be delivered to Eglin AFB by FY2023.
The second batch of F-15EX aircraft is slated for delivery during Exercise 2024 to Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base in Oregon. This base will also serve as a site for F-15EX training. The third batch will be delivered to Portland ANGB, Oregon in fiscal 2025, with Base 142 Wing becoming the first operational unit to fly the aircraft.
The contract includes options that would allow the service to purchase up to 200 jets, with a maximum total value for the program of $ 23 billion.