At an average age of more than 37 years, the F-15C/D fleet is fast approaching the end of its useful life and operating on the margins of structural integrity. The F‑15EX provides a cost-effective and expedient solution to refresh the F‑15C/D fleet and augment the F-15E fleet to meet National Defense Strategy capability and capacity requirements well into the 2040s, while preserving aircraft availability from significant impacts that service life extension and modernization programs would have on the F-15C/D fleet.
The process to acquire the F-15EX aircraft started in February of 2019, when Gen. David Goldfein, then-Air Force chief of staff, signed the F-15EX Rapid Fielding Requirement Document to address readiness issues with an aging F-15 fleet. From there, the directorate’s F-15 Program Office developed the acquisition strategy, awarded the contract, conducted design and verification reviews, and worked with Boeing to manufacture and test the aircraft in record time.
“It has taken a team effort to get to this point,” Dorey added. “I’m extremely proud of the team, to include members of the Propulsion Directorate, Simulators Program Office, Air Combat Command, Air National Guard, Air Force Materiel Command, Defense Contract Management Agency, the Air Staff, and our industry partners for achieving this first aircraft delivery milestone.”
“I commend the dedicated efforts of the entire team for bringing this platform online in record time and in the middle of a global pandemic,” said Gen. Arnold W. Bunch Jr., commander of Air Force Materiel Command. “With its open mission systems architecture and weapons capacity, the F-15EX will provide an outstanding capability for our nation for years to come.”
Following its acceptance, the new aircraft will be flown to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, for testing. A second F-15EX will be delivered to Eglin AFB by the end of April.
The other six Lot 1 aircraft will be delivered to Eglin AFB in fiscal 2023 and will undergo operational testing.
To expedite the testing needed to declare the F-15EX ready for operations, the team will use previous testing data from F-15 foreign military sales variants and U.S.-only subsystems and Operational Flight Program software.
Aircraft in Lots 2 and 3 are on track for delivery in fiscal 2024 and fiscal 2025 to Kingsley Field and Portland Air National Guard Bases, both in Oregon.
Currently, the 173rd Wing at Kingsley Field serves as the F-15C/D training school and will assume the same role for the F-15EX. The 142nd Wing at Portland will be the first operational unit to fly the aircraft.