New Boeing 'Silent Eagle' F-15 Variant Could Rekindle F-15 Production
Production of the Boeing F-15 Strike Eagle is currently due to end next year, after the last of 60 F-15K models for Korea and 24 F-15SG models for Singapore are completed. But the aircraft is a contender for South Korea’s FX-III requirement for 60 more fighters, and an order for 84 is pending from Saudi Arabia, although it remains unconfirmed more than one year after it was notified to the U.S. Congress.
These two customers are driving some of the proposed upgrades that Boeing has marketed as the Silent Eagle. They are headed by the Raytheon APG-63(v)3 AESA radar that is already on the F-15SGs for Singapore. Boeing has funded and test flown a conformal weapons bay for stealth, which replicates the outer mold line of the aircraft’s existing conformal fuel tanks. An IRST (infrared search and track sensors) that is being added to the front of centreline fuel tanks on U.S. Navy F/A-18E/Fs could also be carried by the Silent Eagle.
The other upgrades apparently depend on firm new orders from Korea and/or Saudi Arabia. They are the digital flight control system; next-generation cockpit; a digital electronic warfare system (DEWS); and two additional wing hardpoints for weapons. To further reduce the radar cross-section, Boeing has also proposed canting the vertical tails outward and adding radar-absorbing and reflecting materials. However, export of the latter treatments would depend on U.S. government release policy.
The Saudi package is worth a massive $29.5 billion, including the 84 new-builds and upgrading of the Kingdom’s 70 previously delivered F-15S Strike Eagles to the new F-15SA configuration.
The main elements of the package include 170 APG-63 AESA radars; 193 GE F110-GE-129 improved performance engines; 169 DEWS; 169 Lockheed Martin AAS-42 IRST; 100 Link 16 terminals; 193 third-generation LANTIRN navigation pods; 158 AAQ-33 Sniper targeting systems; 10 Goodrich DB-110 reconnaissance pods; and 338 joint helmet-mounted cueing system helmets plus 462 AN/AVS-9 night-vision goggles.
Accompanying weapons are 300 AIM-9X Sidewinder and 500 AIM-120C7 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles; 4,100 precision-guided bombs and 11,000 general-purpose and training bombs; 1,300 CBU-105 sensor-fused weapons; 400 AGM-84 Block II Harpoon anti-ship missiles; and 600 AGM-88B anti-radiation missiles.