The Boeing F-15E dual-role fighter is an advanced long-range interdiction fighter and tactical aircraft. The F-15E is the latest version of the Eagle, a Mach 2.5-class twin-engine fighter. More than 1,500 F-15s are in service worldwide with the US Air Force, US Air National Guard and the air forces of Israel, Japan and Saudi Arabia, including over 220 F-15E fighters.
F-15 Strike Eagle programme and development
The F-15E Strike Eagle made its first flight in 1986. It is armed with air-to-air missiles that can be launched from beyond visual range, and has air-to-ground capability to penetrate hostile air and ground defences to deliver up to 24,000lb of precision ordnance. Since 2001, US Air Force F-15E aircraft have been almost exclusively used for close-air support.
In April 2001, Boeing received a contract for a further ten F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft for the USAF, bringing the total to 227. The air force initially planned to purchase 392 F-15s. The first production model of the F-15E was delivered to the 405th Tactical Training Wing, Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, in April 1988. The ‘Strike Eagle’, as it was dubbed, received initial operational capability on 30 September 1989.
Boeing is upgrading the programmable armament control set and software for the delivery of precision weapons like the joint direct attack munition (JDAM), joint stand-off weapon (JSOW) and the wind-corrected munition dispenser (WCMD).
The aircraft also have improved night vision capability and three new active-matrix liquid crystal displays.
In December 2005, the Government of Singapore placed an order for 12 F-15SG aircraft. Deliveries are scheduled for mid-2009 to 2012. In October 2007, Singapore ordered an additional 12 aircraft. The first F-15SG was rolled out in November 2008. Deliveries of F-15SGs are to begin in second quarter 2009 and continue till 2012.
In August 2008, the F-15E became the first fighter to fly powered by a blend of synthetic fuel and JP-8. The USAF intends to certify its entire fleet of aircraft for flight using the blended fuel by 2011.
F-15SE Silent Eagle stealth variant
In March 2009, Boeing unveiled the F-15 Silent Eagle (F-15SE) at St Louis, Missouri, USA.
“The F-15 Silent Eagle is designed to meet our international customers’ anticipated need for cost-effective stealth technologies, as well as for large and diverse weapons payloads,” said Boeing F-15 programme vice president, Mark Bass.
Using a modular design approach, the F-15SE possesses aerodynamic, avionic, and stealth features. Key elements of the F-15SE include aerodynamic improvements, RCS reductions, an internal weapons bay and advanced avionics enhancements.
Aerodynamic changes to the F-15SE will improve the aircraft’s aerodynamic efficiency and fighter performance by reducing overall airframe weight and drag. The RCS reduction methods are applied to the airframe for frontal aspect stealth capability thus improving mission effectiveness.
The modular internal weapons bay contributes to the overall aircraft RCS reduction package while maintaining strike capability. The enhanced avionics include an integrated active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and digital electronic warfare system (DEWS) that provides the pilot with greater situational awareness.
The internal carriage conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) can be quickly replaced by the large payload external carriage CFTs which are optimised for increased weapons load. The innovative Silent Eagle is a balanced, affordable design solution based on the combat-proven F-15 Eagle.
The new sophisticated F-15SE internal carriage capability minimises aircraft radar signature and significantly increases pilot tactical options. It is equipped with two internal bays designed for multiple carriage configurations.
The F-15SE is capable of carrying electronic warfare, reconnaissance equipment, side-looking radar, and jamming equipment. The fighter plane’s reconfigurable capability provides enhanced combat flexibility. It is adaptable with each application reconfigurable every 30 minutes.
The elite F-15SE signature reduction methods are applied to the airframe for frontal aspect stealth capability, which ensure greater survivability in the battlefield. The F-15 family has a combat record of 101 victories and zero losses. The US Air Force’s F-15E has flown thousands of combat missions during worldwide combat operations.
F-15K Slam Eagle next-generation South Korean fighter
In April 2002, the Republic of Korea chose the F-15K as its next-generation fighter. 40 aircraft, to be known as the ‘Slam Eagle’, have been ordered. The first flight of the F-15K took place in March 2005 and deliveries began in October 2005. The F-15K entered operational service in July 2008 and deliveries concluded in October 2008. It was confirmed in April 2008 that 21 more would be ordered in 2010, the quantity includes an additional aircraft to replace one which crashed in 2006.
The South Korean Air Force received the last shipment of new F-15K fighter in October 2008 completing its decade-long project to procure 40 of the highly manoeuvrable aircraft. US aircraft manufacturer Boeing delivered F-15ks to the South Korea’s 11th Fighter Wing in Daegu.
The F-15K is powered by General Electric F110-GE-129 engines and features a new electronic warfare suite including BAE Systems IEWS ALR-56C(V)1 radar warner, BAE Systems IDS ALE-47 countermeasures dispenser system and Northrop Grumman ALQ-135M radar jammer.
Lockheed Martin will provide the Tiger Eyes sensor suite with targeting pod (mid-wave staring array FLIR, laser and CCD TV), navigation pod (terrain following radar and mid-wave staring array FLIR) and long-range IRST (infrared search and track). Raytheon will supply the AN/APG-63(V)1 multi-mode radar. BAE Systems will provide the AN/APX-113 IFF (identification friend or foe) system. Data Link Solutions will supply the MIDS fighter datalink.
Kaiser Electronics will provide the cockpit display suite including: five flat panel colour displays (FPCD), four 6in multi-purpose displays (MPD) and wide field of view head-up display (HUD). The FCPD and MFD feature active matrix liquid crystal display (AMLCD) technology.
The Republic of Korea has ordered Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM and AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and Boeing SLAM-ER stand-off land attack missiles for the new aircraft. First flight of a SLAM-ER, which has a range of 278km (150nm), onboard an F-15E took place in February 2004. In 2010, the Republic of Korea Air Force also plans to procure AGM-158 joint air-to-surface stand-off missiles (JASSM).
While F-15A/C aircraft are single-crew aircraft, F-15B/D/E have a crew of two. The F-15E Strike Eagle is crewed by the pilot and the weapon systems officer (WSO).
The WSO is equipped with two Sperry full-color and two Kaiser single-color cathode ray tubes. The WSO can access information from the radar, electronic warfare or infrared sensors, and monitor aircraft or weapons status and possible threats. The WSO also selects targets and navigates with the aid of a moving map display, produced by an AlliedSignal remote film strip reader.
The pilot’s crew station features one full-colour and two single-colour cathode ray tubes. These are being upgraded to Rockwell Collins 5in Flat Panel Colour Displays using active matrix liquid crystal display (AMLCD) technology. A holographic wide-field-of-view head-up display (HUD) from Kaiser provides the pilot with flight and tactical information.
USAF F-15s are scheduled to receive the joint helmet-mounted cueing system (JHMCS) developed by Vision Systems International. A contract for 145 systems was placed in July 2008. Deliveries are underway and are scheduled to conclude in mid-2009.
The F-15E aircraft can carry payloads up to 23,000lb. The aircraft can carry up to four Lockheed Martin / Raytheon AIM-9LM infrared-guided Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, up to four Raytheon AIM-7F/M radar-guided Sparrow air-to-air missiles, or eight Raytheon AMRAAM radar-guided, medium-range air-to-air missiles.
Ranges for these missiles are: Sidewinder: 8km; Sparrow: 45km; and AMRAAM: 50km.
The range of air-to-ground ordnance includes guided GBU-10, -12, -15 and -24 bombs, and Raytheon AGM-65 Maverick infrared-guided missiles. Maverick’s range is 25km.
The first units of GBU-15 glide bomb upgraded with Global Positioning System (GPS) guidance have been delivered for deployment on the F-15E. The Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) was cleared for carriage on the F-15E in February 2005. The aircraft will also be able to carry the Lockheed Martin AGM-158 joint air-to-aurface atand-off missile.
The F-15E is the first aircraft to be armed with the Boeing GBU-39 GPS-guided 113kg (250lb) small diameter bomb. Up to 12 bombs can be carried. The SDB entered Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) in April 2005 and achieved Initial Operating Capability (IOC) on the F-15E in September 2006.
The aircraft is also armed with an internal General Dynamics M-61A1 20mm Gatling gun installed in the right wing root, which can fire 4,000 or 6,000 shots a minute.
The integrated avionics systems provide all-weather, around-the-clock navigation and targeting capability. The Raytheon APG-70 synthetic aperture radar displays high-quality images of ground targets. APG-70 is able to create and freeze the high-resolution ground maps during quick sweeps of the target area, lasting only seconds.
USAF F-15Es are being fitted with the upgraded Raytheon APG-63(V)3 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar which has a new transmitter, receiver, data processor and signal data converter. The first was delivered to Boeing for flight tests in September 2006.
The F-15E is fitted with the Lockheed Martin LANTIRN navigation and targeting system. The LANTIRN navigation pod contains a Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) sensor, which produces video images that are projected onto the pilot’s HUD, and terrain-following radar. The LANTIRN system can be coupled to the flight control system for hands-off terrain, following at altitudes as low as 200ft. The LANTIRN targeting pod contains a tracking FLIR and laser designator.
After obtaining a radar image of the target area, the F-15E aircrew can designate targets by positioning a cursor on the radar display. The target data is transferred to the LANTIRN system for use by the tracking FLIR, which enables aiming of air-to-ground weapons from up to ten miles. Target tracking data is handed automatically to precision-guided weapons such as low-level laser-guided bombs, which can be guided to the target after release.
In August 2001, Lockheed Martin was selected to provide the Sniper XR as the new Advanced Targeting Pod for USAF F-16 and F-15E aircraft. Sniper XR (extended range) incorporates a high-resolution mid-wave FLIR, dual-mode laser, CCD TV, laser spot tracker and laser marker combined with advanced image processing algorithms.
Operational deployment of the Sniper pod on the F-15E began in January 2005, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The aircraft is equipped with an integrated internal electronic warfare suite, including: Lockheed Martin AN/ALR-56C radar warning receiver; Northrop Grumman AN/ALQ-135(V) radar jammer; and Raytheon AN/ALQ-128 EW warner. Northrop Grumman is upgrading the ALQ-135 to band 1.5 standard. It is also fitted with a BAE Systems Integrated Defense Solutions (formerly Tracor) AN/ALE-45 automatic chaff dispenser.
The F15E is equipped with a triple-redundant BAE SYSTEMS Astronics flight control system. Using manual terrain following, navigation is possible over rough terrain at altitudes down to 200ft, at nearly 600mph, with the pilot following commands from the LANTIRN system. Automatic terrain following is accomplished through the flight control system linked to the LANTIRN navigation pod’s terrain-following radar.
F-15Es are equipped with Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 low-bypass turbofan engines, which provide 29,000lb of thrust per engine. Using the digital electronic engine control system, the pilot can accelerate from idle power to maximum afterburner within four seconds.
- F-15E: Two-seat all-weather long-range strike and ground-attack aircraft for the USAF. A total of 236 were built from 1985 to 2001.
- F-15I: The F-15I is operated by the Israeli Air Force where it is known as the Ra’am (רעם – “Thunder”). It is a dual-seat ground attack aircraft powered by two Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engines, and is based on the F-15E.
The F-15I Ra’am is similar to the F-15E, featuring some different avionic systems to meet Israeli requirements. Initially, Sharpshooter targeting pods designed for Israeli F-16s were fitted for night-time strikes, but were less capable than the LANTIRN pods used on USAF F-15Es; Israel later bought 30 LANTIRN pods. The F-15Is initially lacked Radar Warning Receivers; Israel installed its own Elisra SPS-2110 electronic warfare equipment as well as a new central computer and embedded GPS/INS system. All sensors can be slaved to the Display and Sight Helmet (DASH) helmet-mounted sight, providing both crew members a means of targeting which the F-15E lacks. The F-15I uses the APG-70I radar; its terrain mapping capability can locate targets difficult to spot while under adverse weather conditions. The radar can detect large airliner-sized targets at 150 nautical miles (170 mi; 280 km), and fighter-sized targets at 56 nmi (64 mi; 104 km); it has a reduced resolution one-third below the standard USAF APG-70. In January 2016, Israel approved F-15I upgrades such as structural changes, an AESA radar, updated avionics, and new weapons.
- F-15K: The F-15K Slam Eagle (Korean: F-15K 슬램 이글) is a derivative of the F-15E, operated by the Republic of Korea Air Force. Several major components were outsourced to South Korean companies under an offset agreement, wherein South Korea was responsible for 40% of production and 25% of assembly. The fuselage and wings are supplied by Korea Aerospace Industries, flight control actuator by Hanwha Corporation, electronic jammer and radar warning receiver by Samsung Thales, head-up display, airborne communication system, and radar by LIG Nex1, and engines by Samsung Techwin under license before final assembly at Boeing’s St. Louis facility.
In 2002, ROKAF selected the F-15K for its F-X fighter program, during which the F-15K, the Dassault Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon and Sukhoi Su-35 were evaluated. A total of 40 aircraft were ordered, deliveries began in 2005. On 25 April 2008, a second batch of 21 F-15Ks were ordered, worth 2.3 trillion Korean won (US$2.3 billion). This second batch differs from first batch aircraft in having Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 (EEP) engines, license-produced by Samsung Techwin, for commonality with the KF-16 fleet. ROKAF had received 50 F-15Ks by June 2011. ROKAF expects the F-15K to be in service until 2060.
The F-15K has several features not typical to the F-15E, such as an AAS-42 Infra-red search and track, a customized Tactical Electronics Warfare Suite to reduce weight and increase jamming effectiveness, cockpit compatibility with night vision devices, ARC-232 U/VHF radio with Fighter Data Link system, and advanced APG-63(V)1 mechanical-scanned array radar. The APG-63(V)1 radar has common digital processing equipment with the APG-63(V)3 AESA radar, and thus is upgradable to an AESA radar via antenna replacement. The F-15K is equipped with the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System and weapons such as AGM-84K SLAM-ER, AGM-84H Harpoon Block II, and KEPD 350.
- F-15S: The F-15S is a variant of the F-15E supplied to the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) in the 1990s. Saudi Arabia previously sought to buy up to 24 F-15Fs, a proposed single-seat variant, but was blocked by the U.S. Congress. The F-15S, initially referred to as F-15XP, is almost identical to the USAF F-15E, the only major difference in the AN/APG-70 radar’s performance in synthetic aperture mode. 72 were built from 1996 to 1998. In October 2007, GE announced a US$300 million contract with Saudi Arabia for 65 GE F110-GE-129C engines for the F-15S.
- F-15SG: The F-15SG (formerly F-15T) is a variant of the F-15E, ordered by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) after a seven-year evaluation period involving five other fighters under consideration. The F-15SG was chosen on 6 September 2005 over the Dassault Rafale, the only other remaining aircraft in contention. On 22 August 2005, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of a potential Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of weapons, logistics and training to Singapore; options included AIM-120C and AIM-9X missiles; GBU-38 JDAM and AGM-154 JSOW air-to-ground weapons, Night Vision Goggles and Link 16 terminals. The F-15F designation was also reserved. An order for 12 F-15SGs was placed in December 2005.
On 22 October 2007, the Singapore Ministry of Defence exercised an option for eight more F-15SGs within the original contract. Four more were later bought, increasing the total to 24. The first F-15SG was rolled out on 3 November 2008; deliveries began in 2009; all 24 were declared operational in September 2013. Further F-15SGs were ordered, including 8 in 2010 and 8 in 2014, for a total of 40 F-15SGs by 2018.
- F-15 Advanced Eagle: The F-15 Advanced Eagle variant is an upgrade over previous models in that it features two additional underwing weapons hardpoints (increasing the number from nine to eleven); the option of a large area display cockpit; fly-by-wire controls; the Raytheon AN/APG-82(V)1 or AN/APG-63(V)3 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar; General Electric General Electric F110-129 engines; digital Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing Systems in both cockpits; and a digital electronic warfare system among other enhancements. In a typical escort configuration, the Advanced Eagle can carry 16 AIM-120 AMRAAM; four AIM-9X Sidewinder short-range missiles; and two AGM-88 HARMs. For precision strike, it can carry 16 Small-Diameter Bombs (SDBs); four AMRAAMs; one 2,000 lb Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM); two HARMs; and two fuel drop tanks.
- F-15SA: The F-15SA (Saudi Advanced) is a version for the RSAF. It has a new fly-by-wire flight control system in place of the hybrid electronic/mechanical system used by previous F-15s, which allows for weapons carriage on the previously unused outer wing hardpoints. The F-15SA includes the APG-63(v)3 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, digital electronic warfare systems (DEWS), and infrared search and track (IRST) systems. It also had a redesigned cockpit once intended for the F-15SE.
- F-15QA: The F-15QA (Qatar Advanced) is a variant for the Qatar Air Force. In November 2016, the US State Department approved the sale of up to 72 F-15QAs to Qatar in a $21.1 billion deal that included weapons, support, equipment, and training. During June 2017, Qatar signed a deal to buy 36 F-15QAs for US$12 billion. On 13 April 2020, the first F-15QA took its maiden flight.
- F-15IA: The F-15IA (Israel Advanced) is a variant for the Israeli Air Force. In March 2020, the Israeli Defense Forces approved an order for 25 new-build F-15IA and the upgrade of 25 F-15Is to the F-15IA standard.
- F-15X/EX: In 2018, the USAF and Boeing discussed a proposed F-15X, a single-seat variant based on the F-15QA intended to replace the USAF’s F-15C/Ds. Improvements includes the AMBER weapons rack to carry up to 22 air-to-air missiles, infra-red search and track, advanced avionics and electronics warfare equipment, AESA radar, and revised structure with a service life of 20,000 hours. In the FY 2020 budget, the United States Department of Defense requested US$1.1 billion to procure eight F-15EXs of a total planned procurement of 144 F-15EXs. The USAF opted for the F-15EX to maintain fighter numbers after the premature termination of F-22 production, its aging F-15C fleet, and F-35 delays. Although it is not expected to be survivable against modern air defenses by 2028, the F-15EX could perform homeland and airbase defense, no-fly zone enforcement against limited or no air defense systems, and deploying standoff munitions. In July 2020, the U.S. Defense Department ordered eight fighters over three years for $1.2 billion. On August 14, 2020, the Air Force plans to replace the Air National Guard’s aging F-15C Eagles in Florida and Oregon with the service’s newest air superiority aircraft.
- Raytheon AN/APG-70 or AN/APG-82
- AN/ASQ-236 Radar Pod
- Targeting pods:
- LANTIRN or Lockheed Martin Sniper XR or LITENING targeting pods
- Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems AN/ALQ-131 electronic countermeasures pod
- Hazeltine AN/APX-76 or Raytheon AN/APX-119 Identify Friend/Foe (IFF) interrogator
- Magnavox AN/ALQ-128 Electronic Warfare Warning Set (EWWS) – part of Tactical Electronic Warfare Systems (TEWS)
- Loral AN/ALR-56 Radar warning receivers (RWR) – part of TEWS
- Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems ALQ-135 Internal Countermeasures System (ICS) – part of TEWS
- Marconi AN/ALE-45 Chaff/Flares dispenser system – part of TEWS
- Guns: 1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M61 Vulcan gatling gun, 510 rounds of either M-56 or PGU-28 ammunition
- Hardpoints: 2 wing pylons, fuselage pylons, bomb racks on CFTs with a capacity of 24,250 lb (11,000 kg) of external fuel and ordnance
- Air-to-Air Missiles:
- 4× AIM-9M Sidewinder or 4× AIM-120 AMRAAM, and
- 4× AIM-7M Sparrow or additional 4× AIM-120 AMRAAM
- Air-to-Surface Missiles:
- 6× AGM-65 Maverick
- AGM-84 Harpoon
- AGM-84K SLAM-ER
- AGM-154 JSOW
- AGM-158 JASSM
- Air-to-Air Missiles:
- B61 nuclear bomb
- Mark 82 bomb
- Mark 84 bomb
- CBU-87 Combined Effects Munition
- CBU-89 Gator
- CBU-97 Sensor Fuzed Weapon
- CBU-103 CEM
- CBU-104 Gator
- CBU-105 SFW
- CBU-107 Passive Attack Weapon
- GBU-10 Paveway II
- GBU-12 Paveway II
- GBU-24 Paveway III
- GBU-27 Paveway III
- GBU-31 JDAM
- GBU-38 JDAM
- GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb
- GBU-51 Paveway II
- GBU-54 Laser JDAM
|Length||63 ft 9 in (19.43 m)|
|Wingspan||42 ft 10 in (13.05 m)
|Height||18 ft 6 in (5.63 m)|
|Wing area||608 ft² (56.5 m²)|
|Empty weight||31,700 lb (14,300 kg)|
||44,500 lb (20,200 kg)
|Max take off weight||81,000 lb (36,700 kg)|
|Power plant (Dry thrust)
||2 x 17,450 lbf (77.62 kN)
|Power plant (Thrust with afterburner)
||29,000 lbf (129 kN)|
|Maximum speed (High altitude)
||Mach 2.5+ (1,650+ mph, 2,660+ km/h)|
|Maximum speed (High altitude)||Mach 1.2 (900 mph, 1,450 km/h)|
||1,061 nmi (1,222 mi, 1,967 km)|
||3,450 mi (3,000 nmi, 5,550 km)|
||60,000 ft (18,200 m)|
|Rate of climb||>50,000 ft/min (254 m/s)|
|Wing loading||73.1 lb/ft² (358 kg/m²)|