By Bijan Razzaghi
The US Air Force has requested as many as 12 F-15Xs worth 1.2 billion in its 2020 budget. The aircraft will be the latest new built F-15s since the 2001 when the US Air Force purchased 10 additional F-15Es. The F-15Xs will be single seat like the existing F-15C and will include several new systems such as the Raytheon AN/APG-82 (V1) AESA the EPAWS electronic warfare suite and the Lockheed Martin Legion IRST sensor. In addition the F-15Cs external hardpoints can employ as many as 22 AIM-120 AMRAAM air to air missiles.
The 12 new aircraft will replace 12 F-15Cs with about 190 more in service. The initial batch will likely test the interoperability between the platform and 5th generation aircraft. The F-15X will be able to function as a force multiplier for the F-22A utilizing 5th generation avionics. The F-15Xs airframe will match that of the F-15C providing the same high performance required for the air superiority mission.
The combination of AESA radar, IRST sensors and a load of 22 air to air missiles the F-15X has a significant edge over current generation threat aircraft such as the Su-30SM and Su-35S. The F-15X boast a larger loadout and longer detection range allowing it to have the first shot first kill on adversary aircraft.
The F-15X will operate alongside the F-35A and F-22A while older generation F-15s and F-16s are phased out in the 2020s. It is possible that the Air Force will decide to procure additional aircraft as the F-15Xs capabilities are integrated into the fleet.
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