Will Eagles Soar Again?

 

Two articles tease a new F-15 fighter variant to bridge the huge gap between aging fourth-generation fighters and the too expensive, too few in number, stealthy F-22 and F-35. The first is cautious and notes the plane has not been pitched, as it might be, like the new run of F/A-18 Super Hornets. The second is a full-length sales pitch. This, in turn, was picked up and summarized on Popular Mechanics’ website. It makes sense, including dollars and cents, at first glance.

The basic problem the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps face is arithmetic. The stealthy aircraft, on which they bet, ended up too expensive to field in the numbers needed. The F-15 and F/A-18 fleets are aging. So how can the gap be filled? The Navy, after the none-too-subtle shove from the Commander-in-Chief, is buying a new set of updated Super Hornets. The Marines, apparently, will get low mileage Navy jets, to replace worn-out equipment. These will meet most missions, at a fraction of F-35 operating costs. But, what of the Air Force?

The Air Force brass has fought desperately to prevent consideration of updated F-15s with supercruise engines or semi-stealthy modifications. These would clutter the simple procurement picture being painted to Congress. But Congress and the last administration balked at the unit prices, development issues, and simple picture of all fighter requirements being met by two super-duper planes. This has put the Air Force, including the politically potent Air National Guard, at risk.

Fortunately, foreign sales have prompted continued production and refinement of the venerable F-15. So, now the idea of an updated F-15 with much larger ordinance capacity is being floated. It may be both a replacement for old Air Guard homeland air defense planes and a non-stealth platform for lots of missiles directed by forward stealthy jets. The new stealthy aircraft give up external weapons racks, so may need a way to deliver more than they carry.

The F-15 and F/A-18s create competitive pressure on F-35 prices and deliver value quickly in two other ways. First, the lack of new lengthy research and development requirements mean more real defense, sooner, for the taxpayers’ dollar. Instead of years of testing, without combat-ready aircraft on airfields, your dollar today goes into an assembly line. This gives us the second short-term benefit. Instead of money going mostly to researchers and CEOs, the taxpayers’ dollars go into skilled labor jobs, as workers are hired back, or newly hired, to build combat-ready aircraft. More planes for the same money, and more jobs, some might call that “winning.”

Boeing Is Pitching the US a New F-15, Using Its Super Hornet Game Plan

FARNBOROUGH, UK — Boeing is quietly pitching the U.S. Air Force a new F-15 fighter jet using the same business strategy that convinced the Trump administration to buy more Super Hornet warplanes for the Navy.

Dubbed the F-15X, the new variant of the venerable jet offers more modern flight controls, cockpit displays, and radar, according to military and industry sources with knowledge of the plan. The plane would also pack a lot of firepower, carrying more than two dozen air-to-air missiles, the most of any U.S. Air Force aircraft.

Exclusive: Unmasking The F-15X, Boeing’s F-15C/D Eagle Replacement Fighter

Although it has been framed as a Boeing solicitation to the USAF, the opposite is actually true—the USAF began the discussion over a year and a half ago. Since then, ongoing talks have been kept incredibly hush-hush, along with the details of the aircraft involved—until now.

According to sources familiar with the discussions, The War Zone has learned about the F-15X’s origins, its intended capabilities and features, and where it would fit inside the USAF’s tactical airpower ecosystem.

Ah, you can smell that sweet sales pitch cooking!

The F-15X came out of a quiet USAF inquiry to Boeing and Lockheed Martin about fielding an aircraft that could seamlessly plug into their existing air combat infrastructure as part of better-defined high-low capability mix strategy—one intended to specifically help counter the service’s shrinking force structure.

The airframe would have to be cost-effective both in terms of operation and acquisition, very low-risk, and most of all, it would need to be non-disruptive to the larger F-35 procurement initiative. If anything else, it had to be seen as complementary to the F-35, not as an alternative to it.

What follows is a lengthy pitch, establishing the need and showing how the F-15X Acme Eagle (well, I made that up) is just the ticket. Very cool photos and illustrations keep you scrolling. You’ll want one for yourself by the end. This pitch is in the military section of a gearhead webzine, but it was summarized on Popular Mechanics.

Here’s What We Know About the F-15X Super Eagle

The F-15X will be packed with weaponry, more than any dedicated stealth fighter. The new jet will also have an astoundingly long lifespan, and be considerably cheaper to fly during than other fighters.

The War Zone has details on the F-15X, whose existence was revealed a week ago. For one thing, the F-15X does not carry more than two dozen air-to-air missiles as originally reported. It carries “just” 22 missiles thanks to Boeing’s new AMBER missile racks. Still, this level of armament would enable the F-15 to act as a missile carrier for stealth fighters such as the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, carrying many more missiles than either newer jet could.

So now the general reader is in the loop. Maybe he will post about it on social media. Maybe she will tell her member of Congress about this sensible idea, during the August recess. Apparently the House Republicans have a different calendar than us, since they left Washington last evening (July 26th), and won’t be back at their desks until after Labor Day!

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  1. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    Yeah. B52s were built to be upgraded. Magnificent Machines!

    One of the guys I worked with at DOE was a former B-52 pilot.  Needless to say, he had some great stories to tell . . .

    • #61
  2. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    This entire discussion reminds me of the Arthur C. Clarke short story “Superiority.”  I first saw it in an old anthology of his short stories, with a note stating something like: “Students of World War II will recognize the inspiration for this story.”

    JoelB (View Comment):

    If I recall correctly from a discussion on WWII by Victor Davis Hanson, one of the advantages that Britain had going for it during the battle of Britain was that it could turn out Spitfires and Hurricanes at a greater rate than the Germans could build their aircraft. The German planes were considered to be somewhat superior in performance, but could not be replaced quickly enough. Could it be that we should be considering the efficacy of having more of the less-sophisticated craft? (Not advocating for P-51s)

    I don’t think that the German fighters of the Battle of Britain were superior to the British fighters of that time.  I believe that the leading German fighter of 1940-41 was the Me 109, while the British were flying Hurricanes and Spitfires.

    The German Me 262, which was the first jet, has a solid claim to superiority over any Allied fighter of the time, but was not combat-ready until mid-1944, and the Germans never had sufficient numbers to make a difference.

    • #62
  3. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    philo (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    The F-15 is 104-0 in aerial combat.

    Pretty good batting average. Though I did see an article somewhere that an F-22 made them look pretty bad.

    Yeah in simulated combat the F-22’s tore up a larger force of F-15’s and they never saw or got a radar lock on the F-22’s.

    The F22 is the best fighter jet ever produced in history. I know the man who saved the program, as they were build in my hometown.

    Should have built a lot more.

    Yeah. Obama and the traitors in his admin made sure it wouldn’t happen when they destroyed the tooling along with prematurely canceling the program .

    I’m all for blaming the Obama gang for everything and then some but the responsibility for the end of the production run can be spread to many, many entities…and some of them would probably surprise you.

    I think the B-2 and F-22 tooling is in the boneyard, at least what I remember from my tour seven years ago. Of course bringing it out and having people around who understand it is another question, but I don’t think it was destroyed.

    • #63
  4. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):
    I think the B-2 and F-22 tooling is in the boneyard, at least what I remember from my tour seven years ago. Of course bringing it out and having people around who understand it is another question, but I don’t think it was destroyed.

    Reverse engineering does exist.  Having one jet available will allow engineers to come up with new tooling . . .

    • #64
  5. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Stad (View Comment):

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):
    I think the B-2 and F-22 tooling is in the boneyard, at least what I remember from my tour seven years ago. Of course bringing it out and having people around who understand it is another question, but I don’t think it was destroyed.

    Reverse engineering does exist. Having one jet available will allow engineers to come up with new tooling . . .

    We can just send it to China and in 3 weeks they will have the first batch of 50 on a freighter headed for Los Angeles.

    • #65
  6. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    I don’t think that the German fighters of the Battle of Britain were superior to the British fighters of that time. I believe that the leading German fighter of 1940-41 was the Me 109, while the British were flying Hurricanes and Spitfires

    Qualitatively, those three fighters were about the same. Each type was better than the others in some respects but not all. None stand out as overall superior. Though doubtless the men who flew them would argue until the cows came home. Both the BF 109 and the Spitfire would receive numerous upgrades and soldier on through the entire war.

    • #66
  7. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Fortunately, the banter deficiency of the RAF was not fatal…

     

    • #67
  8. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    philo (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    The F-15 is 104-0 in aerial combat.

    Pretty good batting average. Though I did see an article somewhere that an F-22 made them look pretty bad.

    Yeah in simulated combat the F-22’s tore up a larger force of F-15’s and they never saw or got a radar lock on the F-22’s.

    The F22 is the best fighter jet ever produced in history. I know the man who saved the program, as they were build in my hometown.

    Should have built a lot more.

    Yeah. Obama and the traitors in his admin made sure it wouldn’t happen when they destroyed the tooling along with prematurely canceling the program .

    I’m all for blaming the Obama gang for everything and then some but the responsibility for the end of the production run can be spread to many, many entities…and some of them would probably surprise you.

    I think the B-2 and F-22 tooling is in the boneyard, at least what I remember from my tour seven years ago. Of course bringing it out and having people around who understand it is another question, but I don’t think it was destroyed.

    Something,,,,happened to it.

    “One recently retired Air Force official with direct knowledge about the service’s efforts to repair two damaged Raptors said that they faced severe difficulties with retrieving the correct tooling. In one example, Air Force maintainers needed to build a particular component from scratch to replace a severely damaged part for an F-22. The crews went into the Conex boxes where the tooling and instructions to build the part were allegedly stored, but to their considerable surprise and aggravation, the container was empty. The same pattern repeated itself several times—and as of the last time the source checked–the issue remains unresolved. The bottom line is that even if the Air Force wanted to, it may not be physically possible to restart the line—at least not without a huge additional investment in time and money.”

    • #68
  9. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Something,,,,happened to it.

    “One recently retired Air Force official with direct knowledge about the service’s efforts to repair two damaged Raptors said that they faced severe difficulties with retrieving the correct tooling. In one example, Air Force maintainers needed to build a particular component from scratch to replace a severely damaged part for an F-22. The crews went into the Conex boxes where the tooling and instructions to build the part were allegedly stored, but to their considerable surprise and aggravation, the container was empty. The same pattern repeated itself several times—and as of the last time the source checked–the issue remains unresolved. The bottom line is that even if the Air Force wanted to, it may not be physically possible to restart the line—at least not without a huge additional investment in time and money.”

    Sounds like we need an investigation — at least to ensure the tooling didn’t emigrate to China.  But more importantly, if ordered by Obama, to identify the [expletives] in the chain of command the Obama crowd trusted to execute this perfidy in perfect silence.  So we can run them out of the service.

    • #69
  10. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    philo (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    The F-15 is 104-0 in aerial combat.

    Pretty good batting average. Though I did see an article somewhere that an F-22 made them look pretty bad.

    Yeah in simulated combat the F-22’s tore up a larger force of F-15’s and they never saw or got a radar lock on the F-22’s.

    The F22 is the best fighter jet ever produced in history. I know the man who saved the program, as they were build in my hometown.

    Should have built a lot more.

    Yeah. Obama and the traitors in his admin made sure it wouldn’t happen when they destroyed the tooling along with prematurely canceling the program .

    I’m all for blaming the Obama gang for everything and then some but the responsibility for the end of the production run can be spread to many, many entities…and some of them would probably surprise you.

    I think the B-2 and F-22 tooling is in the boneyard, at least what I remember from my tour seven years ago. Of course bringing it out and having people around who understand it is another question, but I don’t think it was destroyed.

    Something,,,,happened to it.

    “One recently retired Air Force official with direct knowledge about the service’s efforts to repair two damaged Raptors said that they faced severe difficulties with retrieving the correct tooling. In one example, Air Force maintainers needed to build a particular component from scratch to replace a severely damaged part for an F-22. The crews went into the Conex boxes where the tooling and instructions to build the part were allegedly stored, but to their considerable surprise and aggravation, the container was empty. The same pattern repeated itself several times—and as of the last time the source checked–the issue remains unresolved. The bottom line is that even if the Air Force wanted to, it may not be physically possible to restart the line—at least not without a huge additional investment in time and money.”

    That’s sad to hear. I agree with Phil that we need an investigation to discover where this tooling is.

    • #70
  11. CuriousKevmo Member
    CuriousKevmo
    @CuriousKevmo

    JoelB (View Comment):

    I recently got a few frames into one of those clickbait stories about the P-51. According to the article, the cost of a P-51 in today’s dollars was something around $600,000 and they could manufacture something like 350 a month. The P-51 was one of the top fighters of its day. Granted today’s aircraft are much more sophisticated, but it got me thinking. If I recall correctly from a discussion on WWII by Victor Davis Hanson, one of the advantages that Britain had going for it during the battle of Britain was that it could turn out Spitfires and Hurricanes at a greater rate than the Germans could build their aircraft. The German planes were considered to be somewhat superior in performance, but could not be replaced quickly enough. Could it be that we should be considering the efficacy of having more of the less-sophisticated craft? (Not advocating for P-51s)

    Not to any one pilot flying one I don’t think.  :-)

     

    • #71
  12. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    philo (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    The F-15 is 104-0 in aerial combat.

    Pretty good batting average. Though I did see an article somewhere that an F-22 made them look pretty bad.

    Yeah in simulated combat the F-22’s tore up a larger force of F-15’s and they never saw or got a radar lock on the F-22’s.

    The F22 is the best fighter jet ever produced in history. I know the man who saved the program, as they were build in my hometown.

    Should have built a lot more.

    Yeah. Obama and the traitors in his admin made sure it wouldn’t happen when they destroyed the tooling along with prematurely canceling the program .

    I’m all for blaming the Obama gang for everything and then some but the responsibility for the end of the production run can be spread to many, many entities…and some of them would probably surprise you.

    I think the B-2 and F-22 tooling is in the boneyard, at least what I remember from my tour seven years ago. Of course bringing it out and having people around who understand it is another question, but I don’t think it was destroyed.

    Something,,,,happened to it.

    “One recently retired Air Force official with direct knowledge about the service’s efforts to repair two damaged Raptors said that they faced severe difficulties with retrieving the correct tooling. In one example, Air Force maintainers needed to build a particular component from scratch to replace a severely damaged part for an F-22. The crews went into the Conex boxes where the tooling and instructions to build the part were allegedly stored, but to their considerable surprise and aggravation, the container was empty. The same pattern repeated itself several times—and as of the last time the source checked–the issue remains unresolved. The bottom line is that even if the Air Force wanted to, it may not be physically possible to restart the line—at least not without a huge additional investment in time and money.”

    That’s sad to hear. I agree with Phil that we need an investigation to discover where this tooling is.

    Human error is the more likely reason.

    If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes in a chow line or seen the ending of Raiders of the Lost Ark, you know what I mean.

    • #72
  13. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Steve C. (View Comment):
    If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes in a chow line or seen the ending of Raiders of the Lost Ark, you know what I mean.

    I don’t think you understood the ending of Raiders.

     

    • #73
  14. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Israel steps in? 

    https://m.aviationweek.com/defense/why-israelis-want-larger-more-modern-f-15-fleet

    • #74
  15. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    Israel steps in?

    https://m.aviationweek.com/defense/why-israelis-want-larger-more-modern-f-15-fleet

    Yes, this is part of the international demand that has driven F-15 modernization.

    Side note: Before the interwebs, I subscribed to Aviation Week from the time I completed the officers’ basic course in Air Defense Artillery. Opposition research. I stopped subscribing around the time I switched from a blow stuff up specialty to a fix and supply stuff specialty. Aviation Week was always a fun read.

    • #75
  16. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    Israel steps in?

    https://m.aviationweek.com/defense/why-israelis-want-larger-more-modern-f-15-fleet

    Yes, this is part of the international demand that has driven F-15 modernization.

    Side note: Before the interwebs, I subscribed to Aviation Week from the time I completed the officers’ basic course in Air Defense Artillery. Opposition research. I stopped subscribing around the time I switched from a blow stuff up specialty to a fix and supply stuff specialty. Aviation Week was always a fun read.

    Aviation Leak was a must-have, though it was a little depressing getting project information from a third party.

    • #76
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