The U.S. Airforce surprised the aviation community recently when it said it was evaluating the purchase of Boeing’s F-15X fighter jet. The Airforce could be looking for ways to make up for the F-35’s shortcomings and the limited number of F-22s in its inventory. Purchasing jets from the proven Boeing F-15 program could help the military bypass the costly development and testing phases that would accompany any new design.
One problem the F-15x could address is the ability of the F-35 to only carry a limited number of internal AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs). The F-15X doesn’t have the F-35’s stealth capabilities, but can carry 22 missiles and act as a mule, or weapons hauler for the fifth generation jet.
The advanced F-35 can act as a quarterback for ground, sea, and air assets, passing along vital targeting data from its Distributed Aperture System (DAS) and sharing it via its tactical data system, Link 16. Adding more F-15x jets could keep the F-35s in the fight longer as the two systems can work together with the data to defeat threats. With advanced stealth capabilities, the F-35 can get closer to its targets and relay targeting data to F-15X weapons mules. This synergy could also work in reverse as the F-35 could fly undetected with its active sensors off all while using the F-15X’s powerful radar systems to gain the element of surprise says Sebastien Roblin of The National Interest. He writes:
The aviation world is abuzz with rumors that the U.S. Air Force is evaluating the purchase of a brand-new F-15X model of the legendary 45-year-old F-15 Eagle twin-engine fighter. Marcus Weisgerber first reported this possibility for Defense One, then expanded upon in an article by Tyler Rogoway at The Drive. […]
Boeing proposes to manufacture new multi-role F-15Xs based on an advanced F-15QA Strike Eagle variant currently in production for Qatar. Because the factory line will remain open through 2022 and the technologies have all already been developed, Boeing could skip over the development phase and plans to offer the F-15X at a (presumably low) fixed cost—rare in an industry known for gigantic cost-overruns. The USAF, for its part, could inexpensively adopt a plane for which it already has existing infrastructure and familiarity. […]
[…] The F-15X’s greater payload could open interesting strategies when working together with F-35s and their networked sensors—an approach the Navy plans for its own mixed Carrier Air Wings of Super Hornets and F-35s. As noted earlier, the F-35 is limited to carrying just six to eight missiles when in stealth mode, which could leave it overwhelmed facing a numerically superior adversary. An F-35 could creep closer to scout out the positions of enemy air or surface forces with its sensors and relay the targeting data to F-15X ’missile trucks’ loaded down with long-range weapons flying a safer distance away from enemy forces. This strategy could also be inverted: an F-15X could use its powerful radar to vector F-35s running ‘silently’ with their active sensors off until they have stalked close enough to their prey to have a higher probability of a kill.
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