Air Force to buy NEW advanced F-15s as compliments to the F-22, F-35: ‘Not your dad’s F-15’ (Video)

Despite warnings from some within the defense establishment and Congress, the U.S. Air Force has decided to buy as many as 80 brand-new, next-gen, upgraded F-15 fighter planes over the next five years to complement its F-22 and F-35 wings.

The upgraded F-15s will come in two versions — the single-seat F-15CX and the two-seat model F-15EX. According to officials, the new planes are capable of carrying much more ordnance including 12 air-to-air missiles and smart bombs, Popular Mechanics reports.

In addition, Boeing — the plane’s manufacturer — said the aircraft will come with what is arguably the fastest in-flight targeting computer in use today in any air force.

Bloomberg noted that 80 aircraft will be enough to outfit a wing of 72 fighters with eight spares. The wing would be divided into three 24-plane squadrons.

The F-15X is a completely upgraded fighter from the F-15 Eagle air superiority aircraft first introduced in the 1970s. According to one F-15X pilot featured in Boeing’s promotional video promoting the plane (see below), “This is not your daddy’s F-15.”

Popular Mechanics noted some of the fighter’s new features:

The F-15X will also include large flat panel displays for displaying aircraft information, conformal fuel tanks to give it a longer range, a digital fly-by-wire control system, a new APG-82 radar, and the Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS) for protection from air-to-air missiles.

What the aircraft doesn’t have, however, is stealth capabilities like its F-22 and F-35 cousins. And because the airframe was designed before stealth technology became available, other than coating the plane’s surface in radar-absorbing material there isn’t much else that can be done to make it less visible to enemy air defense radars.

But while the plane won’t be difficult to spot, it will be extremely well-armed to make up the difference. “The plane will use new AMBER missile racks to nearly triple the aircraft’s air-to-air missile capability, from 8 to 22,” Popular Mechanics reported.

As for why the Air Force would want to buy an upgraded version of a fourth-generation plane when it has more than enough F35s in the pipeline, service officials say that the F-15X series aircraft will serve to complement their fifth-gen fighters mostly by adding additional mission capabilities.

For one, the F-15X models carry substantially more firepower. The F-22 and the F-35 carry only six and four air-to-air missiles respectively, hidden away in internal bays to reduce radar signature. And while both fifth-gen planes can add external weapons pylons doing so would make them visible to radar and defeat their purpose of evading defenses to strike enemy installations without detection.

Also, theoretically the new F-15s could be used to suppress enemy air defenses ahead of any F-22s and F-35s sent in to strike other targets. Currently, this mission is assigned to single-seat F-16C model aircraft.

Critics say purchasing the new F-15X models takes needed funding away from buying more F-35s. They also argue that increasingly sophisticated air defense networks make stealth aircraft imperative.

But for now anyway, the F-15X purchases will go forward — at least until the Pentagon and the Trump administration changes their minds.



U.S. Air Force accelerating development of lasers for jet fighters

The U.S. Air Force is expanding and accelerating its research and development of laser weapons for jet fighters, which it hopes to have operational by the early 2020s.

In addition, the service is also upgrading its combat strategy, tactics, and operational concepts in order to accommodate the rapidly emerging technology, Warrior Maven reported.

Lasers offer new capabilities that will change the nature of air combat, experts note.

As for the Air Force, officials believe that jet-fired lasers can become a reality within a few years as mobile power systems become stronger and smaller, as other techologies such as tracking targets rapidly evolve.

Lasers will bring increased precision at the speed of light to incinerate targets on the ground or in the air, say experts. Also, laser weapons can be adjusted to achieve a certain desired effect: Total destruction, partial damage, or a smaller, more measured impact, depending on the mission.

“Laser weapons offer warfighters opportunities for quick and precise target engagement, flexibility and lighter and more responsive support logistics,” Eva Blaylock, a spokeswoman for the Air Force Research Laboratory, told Warrior Maven in a written statement.

Laser systems currently under development will allow fighter pilots to engage multiple air and ground targets simultaneously. Also, lasers will give pilots unlimited weapons capability, dependent only upon the aircraft’s power plant.

Besides costing far less per ‘shot’ than current convention missiles, at 186,000 miles per second, lasers will be impossible to evade.

Test beds for laser systems have been developed, and the Air Force expects to begin real-world testing by 2021. The Air Force will probably start with larger C-130 and C-17 aircraft at first, then fighter-sized aircraft such as the F-15 and F-35 once technology shrinks the size of the weapon.