The F-15X: The Plane the Air Force Needs to Buy (What About the F-35?)
Hype is growing around the F-15X.
Key point: The Air Force must decide whether more cost-efficient, but less-survivable fighters are worth it.
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.
Were a contract to materialize, the F-15X could become the Air Force’s first new fighter that wasn’t a stealth jet since 2001—paralleling a recent decision by the U.S. Navy to procure Super Hornet jets to serve alongside its F-35C stealth fighters, rather than allowing the F-35 to replace them. But just how significant are the upgrades, and do they justify purchasing more of the Air Force’s oldest active fighter plane?
Replacing the F-15C/D:
The F-15X is specifically intended to replace a fleet of 235 F-15C and two-seat F-15D fighters deployed for air defense of the coastal United States, Japan and England. These air-superiority fighters are fast (Mach 2.5), maneuverable and boast long-range APG-63(V)3 radars. However, the F-15C/Ds date back to the mid-1980s and are quite likely to be retired early, as they would otherwise require expensive upgrades to remain airworthy.
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