Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
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Founded in August 1971

2019-07-01

F-15EX to Offer Unmatched Speed, Control, and Payload

The F-15EX promises to be one of the most advanced and cost-effective aircraft with capabilities to engage a multitude of targets on any given mission. Being developed by Boeing for U.S. Air Force (USAF), the next generation fighter jet leverages more than US$5 billion in technology investments over the past decade to bring the USAF the world’s most modern variant of the undefeated F-15. The F-15EX not only enhances the air combat capabilities to stay ahead of current and emerging threats but also features better control and improved payload capacity to carry a full array of air-to-air, air-to-ground and maritime missions. 
 
Based on the two-seat F-15QA configuration, the F-15EX will be upgraded with USAF only capabilities including the Eagle Passive/Active Warning and Survivability System (EPAWSS) and the Suite 9.1 Operational Flight Program (OFP) software. Operable by one or two aircrews, the F-15EX is multi-role capable and will heavily leverage existing logistics, maintenance and training infrastructure of the F-15. 
 
F-15EX Capabilities 
F-15EX’s features include enhanced mission management systems, advanced sensors, powerful engines and unmatched weapon station that provide a full spectrum of protection and enable dominant engagement of new and emerging threats.  The 21st-century cockpit provides real-time access to battlefield information, which will enhance the pilot’s understanding of the environment to reduce workload, expedite decision-making and enhance mission management. Its fly-by-wire controls will improve reliability and maintainability by a factor of five to increase the pilot’s mission management capabilities.
 
The advanced sensor system in F-15EX fuses both on-board and off-board data to enable simultaneous monitoring of multiple data sources providing enhanced situational awareness and eases pilot workload. The cockpit is enabled with the Advanced Display Core Processor (ADCP) II mission computer that can reportedly process 87 billion instructions per second. With one of the world’s fastest computing throughput the mission computers on F-15EX features reliable mission processing capability and real-time access to battlefield information, as well as increase the pilot’s combat effectiveness.

This increased processing capability is critical to new advanced features such as Eagle Passive/Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS), long-range Infrared Search and Track capability (IRST), high-speed radar communications and future software suite upgrades. 
 
The F-15EX’s powerful twin engines will provide unrivalled speed and acceleration capabilities and enable it to fly faster and farther providing much-needed mission flexibility. The improved Conformal Fuel Tank (CFT) from Boeing F-15 doubles its loiter time and increases range while reducing the frequency of in-flight refuelling. 
 
Advanced Warfare Systems   
The F-15EX has an integrated electronic warfare suite, which enables air dominance and provides a full spectrum of protection. The fighter will be able to survive integrated air defence systems and seamlessly communicate with other sensors. Its advanced systems will help in delivering automated IR countermeasures to enhance survivability and enable it to penetrate the most modern air defence systems. Boeing will equip the F-15EX with an upgraded version of the Raytheon APG-63 (V) 3 active scanning radar with EPAWSS and an IRST sensor, and an improved data link.
 
APG-63(V)3 AESA radar
 The APG-63(V)3 AESA radar provides powerful and adaptable radar technology, as well as tactical flexibility that F-15 pilots can rely on. The key benefit this radar system provides is the all-weather coverage and superior situational awareness. It also features multi-role capability, long-term support, and easy future growth options. The APG-63(V)1 seamlessly integrates the APG-63(V)3's AESA components with minimal downtime. The APG-63(V)3 provides for a similarly easy future transition. 
 
EPAWSS
An integrated all-digital system, BAE Systems’ EPAWSS provides advanced aircraft protection and significantly improved situational awareness to protect F-15EX aircraft. EPAWSS detects and defeats both surface and airborne threats in highly contested and signal-dense environments with its fully integrated radar warning, geo-location and increased chaff and flare capability. The system is also equipped with offensive and defensive electronic warfare options.

The systems collect and process electromagnetic energy to capture 360-degree aerial field of view providing a comprehensive picture of the battlespace and giving the pilot maximum situational awareness. The EPAWSS helps in identifying, monitoring, analysing, and rapidly responding to potential threats. Using advanced avionics and sensors, the system takes this a step further by detecting and geo-locating electronic emitters to give pilots the option to evade, engage, counter or jam threats. 
 
Weapon Stations
The F-15EX will have weapon station capacity up to 29,500 lbs of payload supported by 12 certified air-to-air hard points and 15 certified air-to-ground hard points. Thanks to increased missile transport capability, the F-15EX will offer the possibility of working directly with the F-22 and F-35 to support high firing capacity. The jet can also operate more stealthily with the F-15 armament mounted in the hatches.  The F-15EX can carry a full range of weapons such as JSOW (Joint Standoff Weapon), Harpoon, the HARM anti-radar missile, and it will have the ability to carry up to 24 air-to-air missiles. 
 
The JSOW C in F-15EX’s internal weapons bay is the world’s first network-enabled missile with a range of more than 100 kilometres and can eliminate the toughest ground targets from significant standoff ranges.  It uses a GPS-inertial navigation system with an imaging infrared seeker that can identify and track targets autonomously.

JSOW C weighs 1,000 pounds and is effective against high-value land targets at ranges greater than 70 nautical miles, day or night, and in adverse weather conditions. Whereas, the Harpoon Block II in the F-15EX incorporates key guidance technologies from two other Boeing weapons programmes, are the integrated global positioning system/inertial navigation system (GPS/INS) from the Joint Direct Attack Munition and the software, mission computer, GPS antenna and receiver from the SLAM-ER. The Harpoon is capable of executing both land-strike and anti-ship missions and uses its GPS aided inertial navigation to hit a designated aim-point while striking a target on land and ships in port.

The Harpoon comes with a 500-pound blast warhead with lethal firepower capable of exterminating a wide variety of land-based targets, including coastal defence sites, surface-to-air missile sites, exposed aircraft, port/industrial facilities and ships in port.
 
The F-15EX aircraft will be able to work in pairs with drones for deep strikes and will be much better than its competitors. Its large size facilitates further integrations in weapons technology, and there are also talks of gradually adapting directed energy weapons like lasers once they are available.
 
F-15 Evolution
The concept for F-15 was formalised by McDonnell Aircraft in 1967 when it was selected to enter the second phase of the U.S. Air Force's FX competition. The USAF awarded McDonnell Douglas the F-15 Advanced Tactical Fighter contract in 1969, after two years of intensive testing and evaluation. The F-15 was a twin-engine, high-performance, all-weather air superiority fighter known for its incredible acceleration and manoeuvrability.

With a top speed in excess of Mach 2.5 (more than 1,600 mph or 2575 kmph), it was the first U.S. fighter with enough thrust to accelerate vertically and carried a large complement of missiles. The first test flight of F-15 Eagle, as christened by the founder of McDonnell Aircraft James S. McDonnell, took place in July 1972 at Edwards Air Force Base in California followed by Air Force approval for full-rate production, six months later. Over the last four decades, F-15 Eagle has seen numerous upgrades and has downed MiG fighters during the Balkan conflict and the majority of Iraq's fixed-wing aircraft during Operation Desert Storm.
 
The F-15E Strike Eagle, developed in 1986, could carry 23,000 pounds of air-to-ground and air-to-air weapons and is equipped with advanced navigation and an infrared targeting system that protect the Strike Eagle from enemy defences.  The F-15 has been produced in single-seat A model and two-seat B versions. Whereas, the two-seat F-15E Strike Eagle version is a dual-role fighter that can engage both ground and air targets.
 
Boeing has continued to evolve the F-15 with advanced technology, and it is undefeated in air-to-air combat — 101 aerial victories and 0 defeats. In all models, more than 1,500 F-15s have been built. F-15 is expected to be a major player in the USAF’s air superiority and dominance arsenal through the 2040 timeframe. 
 
According to the Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY), 2020 Budget Estimates the USAF is planning to buy eight F-15EXs in 2020 and 18 each in the years 2021 to 2024. The pre-decisional plan is for the first two aircraft ordered in FY20 to be taken from the existing production line and delivered approximately two years after contract award to support flight testing. The subsequent delivery of aircraft 3-8, also ordered in FY20, are expected approximately three to three-and-half years after contract award.
 
Reference text/Photo:
 
 

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