The U.S. Air Force has christened its newest aircraft that joined the fighter fleet in March, the Boeing F-15EX, as Eagle II.
“The newest aircraft in the Air Force fleet has been christened the F-15EX Eagle II. The Eagle II includes the latest mission and software capabilities, such as an advanced electronic warfare upgrade also fielded on F-15E models,” the Air Force tweeted.
The aircraft was renamed in a ceremony on Wednesday at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
Boeing F-15EX Specifications
The F-15EX variant of the F-15 series of fighter planes is based on the F-15QA, which Boeing is building for Qatar. It is a two-seat aircraft—though operable by a single pilot—with fly-by-wire flight controls, digital cockpit displays, the more advanced ADCP-II mission computer from Honeywell, Eagle Passive/Active Warning and Survivability System, and an electronic warfare upgrade.
The EX can launch hypersonic weapons up to 22 feet long and weighing up to 7,000 pounds, which gives it an edge over the F-35. The plane’s upgrades include advanced avionics systems and the capability of carrying nearly 30,000 pounds of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons internally, to minimize its stealth profile.
U.S.A.F.’s F-15EX Future Plans
The F-15EX replaces the oldest F-15C/Ds in the inventory. Eight were approved in the fiscal 2020 budget and 12 were requested for fiscal 2021.
The Department of Defense outlined plans to spend nearly $7.9 billion over the next five years to restock its F-15 fleet with upgraded versions of the fighter aircraft. The Air Force expects to buy 76 of the aircraft, toward a possible ultimate buy of 144 airplanes.
The process to acquire the F-15EX aircraft started in February of 2019, when Gen. David Goldfein, then Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force signed the F-15EX Rapid Fielding Requirement Document to address readiness issues with an aging F-15 fleet.
In July 2020, U.S. DoD said it made a $1.2 billion payment to Boeing for what will total out to $22.89 billion worth acquisition of F-15EX fighters in the coming years. In February of this year, the Air Force announced plans to buy 461 engines to power their F-15EXs.