Is the F‑15EX On the Brink of Being Canceled?
F‑15 EX – Canceled? – The F‑15 Eagle was designed in the 1970s, without “a pound for air-to-ground,” meaning the plane was built strictly for air superiority. Accordingly, the original F‑15 was excellent at engaging other airborne targets, or dogfighting – the jet was perhaps the preeminent fourth-generation air-to-air fighter – but lacked systems or capabilities to engage on the ground targets. In the 1980s, the F‑15E variant was built to provide the F‑15 platform with an air-to-ground option. The F‑15E retained the original Eagle’s air-to-air abilities, while adding an air-to-ground mode, hence broadening the spectrum of mission profiles that the jet could conduct. F‑15EX: A Program In Peril?
Now, a new variant, known as the F‑15EX is ready for production, according to Boeing. But how many will the Air Force actually order and is the program in trouble?
The F‑15EX first flew in February 2021. In March of the same year, Boeing delivered the first F‑15EX to the US Air Force. The delivery was significant, marking the first USAF in nearly two decades. The F‑15EX had been developed surreptitiously after the USAF made a very discreet inquiry to Boeing about creating an airframe meeting certain requirements. Namely, the USAF wanted a new jet that was cheap to operate, cheap to acquire, low-risk, and that would not disrupt the procurement of the F‑35. Boeing’s solution: an update to the F‑15 Eagle. The decision could be considered counterintuitive; the USAF had no …