By Bijan Razzaghi
The US Air Force has chosen Boeing to upgrade nearly all of America’s 192 F-15Cs to the 2040C standard. This includes nearly 247 wings sets that will extend the service life of the aircraft to allow the airframe to survive another 20 years of wear and tear. The contract to Boeing is worth $12 billion and will likely be offered on the international market as well to close US allies such as Japan and South Korea.
The F-15C 2040C keeps the successful and capable design of the F-15C but adds 5th generation avionics among them include TALON HATE which is software that allows for communication between 4th generation fighters and 5th generation F-35s and F-22s allowing for better battlefield communication. The aircraft’s cockpit will also be completely redesigned to include a full digital touch display which will allow the pilot to switch between different displays with relative ease and allowing the culmination of data to be presented on one single display. Data from radar, RWR, and navigation will all be combined on one display for the pilot. These systems allow F-15 pilots to benefit from the technological advances that are employed on 5th generation platforms. The EPAWWS, which is a new electronic warfare, suit which has significant improvements over the previous era of ECMs. The EPAWWS will be able to counter the more sophisticated air defense systems and radars used by Russia or China. Conformal fuel tanks and increased weapons payload allow for the aircraft to have more flexibility on missions hardpoints usually taken up by fuel tanks are replaced by weapon stations.
Overall as a cost saving measure the F-15 2040C is a good choice only costing $12 billion dollars, while restarting the F-22 production based on a study from the RAND Corporation based in Santa Monica would be $30 billion dollars. Those funds would likely be taken from other defense projects such as the F-35, Literal combat ship, or the B-21 bomber. The decision is the most effective balance between cost effectiveness and capability; the stealth is sacrificed by increased payload and compensated with an advanced electronic warfare suit. The feasibility of keeping the airframe is possible with increased wing production.