Boeing has won a contract worth almost US$1.2 billion from the US Air Force to build the first tranche of eight F-15EX fighter jets. The most advanced version of the venerable F-15 that began production in the 1970s, the first two jets are already under construction at Boeing’s St Louis facility and are expected to be delivered in 2021.
The F-15EX is the domestic variant of the F-15QA that Boeing is building for the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF). Like the F-15QA, the F-15EX incorporates a number of next-generation technologies, including fly-by-wire flight controls and a digital cockpit. In addition, there are modernized sensors, radar, and electronic warfare systems, and what is described as the world’s fastest mission computer.
The fighter can also carry more weapons than others in its class, including hypersonic weapons 22 ft (7 m) long and weighing 7,000 lb (3,200 kg).
According to Boeing, the new contract not only covers construction but also support and one-time, upfront engineering costs. In addition, the USAF has awarded Boeing with an Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity contract worth up to US$23 billion to cover the construction and servicing of up to 144 of the new fighters. Thanks to new digital architecture, Boeing says that current F-15 pilots will be able to transition to the F-15EX in days, rather than years.