It’s no F-35.
Key point: Russia knows the F-15EX is decently advanced but doesn’t have the stealth abilities of an F-22 or F-35.
The debate continues over the Pentagon’s proposal to buy new F-15EX Eagle fighters from Boeing to complement Lockheed Martin-made F-35 stealth fighters.
As lawmakers weigh the military’s request, Air Force magazine has published an infographic comparing the two fighters.
Both fighters cost roughly $80 million apiece, according to Air Force. But the similarity ends there. The F-35 is stealthier but the F-15 flies higher, farther and faster and carries more weaponry.
A Russian-made S-400 air-defense system could detect an F-35 at 20 miles, Air Force estimated. It could pick up an F-15EX 200 miles away.
While an F-35 can carry 22,000 pounds of munitions to a ceiling of 50,000 feet and a distance of 670 miles at a top speed of Mach 1.6, the F-15EX can haul 29,500 pounds of weapons as high as 60,000 feet and as far as 1,100 miles at a top speed of Mach 2.5.
An F-35 costs $35,000 per hour to operate. An F-15EX costs $27,000 per hour.
The new Eagle’s main advantage, however, is that existing F-15 squadrons quickly and cheaply can convert to the type, Air Force‘s John Tirpak explained.
“The F-15EX, USAF argues, is essentially an in-production aircraft. It has upward of 70-percent parts commonality with the F-15C and E already in USAF service and can use almost all the same ground equipment, hangars, simulators and other support gear as the Eagles now in service,” according to Tirpak.
“At a unit price roughly comparable to that of the F-35, F-15 squadrons could transition to the F-15EX in a matter of weeks, whereas converting pilots, maintainers, facilities and equipment to the F-35 takes many months, the Air Force says.”
The Defense Department compelled the Air Force to request eight F-15EXs as part of the flying branch’s 2020 budget request. The eight planes would cost $1.2 billion.
The Air Force reportedly would buy another 136 F-15EXs through the mid-2020s. The new Eagles would replace 1980s-vintage F-15Cs in some or all of the nine squadrons that fly the older type, mostly for patrols over the United States.
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