First ‘Golden Eagle’ F-15C for USAF Air National Guard
The first Boeing F-15C to be upgraded with a Raytheon APG-63(V)3 active electronically scanned antenna (AESA) radar was rolled out on April 12 at Jacksonville IAP, Florida, where the conversions are being undertaken by a Boeing Global Services & Support team in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force and Raytheon. The installation of the AESA radar is the major element of a program to maintain the so-called “Golden Eagle” fleet of F-15s in service to around 2030.
Raytheon’s APG-63(V)3 combines an active electronically scanned antenna based on that used in the APG-79 radar for the Super Hornet, with proven software from the APG-63(V)2 AESA radar that was retrofitted to 18 active-duty Eagles that now serve in Alaska. It reuses many of the “back end” components of the APG-63(V)1 mechanically scanned radar currently fitted to most F-15Cs.
Currently, Boeing has contracts to upgrade 14 F-15Cs for the Air National Guard (ANG) and 10 for the active-duty Air Force, but ultimately the Pentagon plans to have 176 “Golden Eagles” in service. Funding has been secured for 48 to be operated by the ANG, for service with three units. The first will be the 159th Fighter Squadron of the Florida ANG, based at Jacksonville and with an air defense detachment at Homestead Air Reserve Station. The primary role of these squadrons is homeland defense, for which the new radar will provide greater situational awareness and better tracking capability of small targets.
Meanwhile, on April 5, the first five F-15SG Eagles for the Republic of Singapore Air Force touched down at Paya Lebar air base to begin the re-equipment of the 149 Squadron. These new-build Eagles also feature the APG-63(V)3 radar.