Thursday, August 24, 2006US Aerospace giant Boeing has designed a major revision for the F-15 Eagle, known as the F-15E+ "Super Eagle". Boeing is offering the Super Eagle to the US Air Force as an interim solution should the Lockheed F-35 encounter further production delays such as the 14 month delay proposed by the US Navy.
The F-15E+ Super Eagle will closely match the technology on board South Korea's new F-15K and Singapore's F-15SG, (incidently, these versions will keep Boeing's F-15 production lines busy until around 2010). The South Korea and Singapore versions are the most technically advanced F-15's on the planet, or at least they were before the F-15E+ Super Eagle.
According to Boeing represenatives the Super Eagle should cost $60 million and includes enhancements such as Raytheon's APG-63 Version 3 AESA radar featuring electronic attack and broadband communications capabilities, the most advanced ground attack software, a new radar warning receive and 15 "smart stations" under the wing enabling it to carry more weaponsthan ever before.
These "Super Eagle" technologies could also be retrofitted onto the existing F-15E fleet. The Air Force has 217 F-15E Strike Eagles.Boeing reps say an additional wing or two of F-15E+'s, somewhere around 100-150 aircraft, would fill the long range strike role until F-35 Lightning II fighters reach combat units in sufficient numbers.
So will the Super Eagle ever take flight? It's a very political issue, since any USAF move to buy an interim force of F-15E+s could send an unintentional message to international F-35 Lightning II partners that the USAF is backing away from its JSF commitments. Congress, the State Department and Lockheed will most likely not let this happen. However, foreign friends have expressed interest in the Super Eagle.
I personally feel that they should retrofit all the existing Eagles with the Super Eagle package. I say this because I agree that a buy of completely new airframes would be a provocative move politically with our F-35 partners.