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F-15 Eagle News                        

March 2017

ANG thinking of retiring F-15C/D's

Maj Gen Scott West, Director of Current Operations and Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, HQ USAF, told the Senate House Armed Services Committee on March 22 during a ‘Current State of the USAF’ hearing that the Air National Guard had tabled a ‘predecisional’ consideration of replacing the F-15C Eagle with the F-16C in the homeland defense role. Retiring the ANG F-15C/D fleet would be taken as a cost-saving measure.

Speaking about current USAF readiness, Gen West said: ‘The average age of our fleets is 27 years old. [We are] sustaining older fleets with less than required manning.’ He said this has a direct effect on readiness. ‘The F-15C was our air superiority fighter, now F-22 has taken that role. We have capacity in the F-16C community to racapitalize with a new radar to serve the same capacity the F-15C has done.’

‘Right now it’s planning, we haven’t made the choices yet,’ said Lt Gen Scott Rice, ANG director. ‘There about four or five different things, one of the options is retiring the F-15Cs and then replacing them with F-16s with upgraded radars.’

The ANG and the three active duty F-15C squadrons are in need of a substancial upgrade. Boeing has tabled the F-15 2040C and a host of refinements for the F-15C in the air superiority role. However the USAF has made little secret of its concerns over cost. The F-16C radar upgrade has stalled on many occasions, and presumably this latest move is aimed at realizing the F-16C upgrade plan, but at the expense of the F-15C.

 

New F-15's for Israeli Air Force

Israel is likely to buy a squadron of Boeing's upgraded F-15s. The IDF is preparing for two major deals with the US, including the procurement of aircraft designed to renew its stock of warplanes and transportation helicopters.

For a long time, the air force has wanted to replace its F-15s, manufactured by Boeing, with a better version of the aircraft equipped with an advanced active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system. This aircraft does not have stealth capabilities, but it can carry larger payloads, has advanced attack capabilities, and is operated by a two-man crew, which is an advantage in complex missions. The twin-engine warplane can continue operating even when one of the engines is disabled.

The new F-15s cost $100 million a plane. They are more advanced than the F-15s purchased from the US by Saudi Arabia and Qatar in recent years. Israel insisted that the US refrain from selling the new version to Qatar in order to maintain the Israeli air force's superiority in the Middle East, but former President Barack Obama disagreed, saying that Qatar felt threatened by Iran, and approved the sale of 72 of the aircraft just before he left office.

Since it first flew 40 years ago, the F-15 has undergone upgrades and facelifts. It is classified as a "strategic bomber."

Former senior air force officers explained that the assessment of the new F-15s is based on the belief that the IDF cannot rely on only one type of plane. Commenting on the F-15's lack of stealth capability, the air force veterans said, "Most of today's armaments are fired at the target from a range of tens of miles."

During Moshe Ya'alon's term as Minister of Defense, the defense establishment consensus was that new F-15s were needed. Over the past year, the air force considered the procurement of 75 F-15s, but postponed the decision.

After cabinet approval is obtained for replacing two battle squadrons, a decision will be made between replacing them with F-35s or F-15s. The cabinet decision authorizing procurement of the last 17 F-35s purchased stated that the next procurement program presented by the air force would also present specifications for the F-15, not just the F-35.

 

November 2016

F-15QA Advanced Eagles for Qatar

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has posted two announcements on its website that acknowledge the approval of up to 72 Boeing F-15QA Advanced Eagles for Qatar and 40 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets for Kuwait.

The deals are valued at USD21.1 billion and USD10.1 billion respectively.

In early September it was reported that the US was close to approving sales of Boeing fighters to the two Gulf states. The deals had been held up by the US government due to Israeli concerns and in order to smooth the way for nuclear talks with Iran.

The Pentagon and the State Department reportedly expects an actual sale of a maximum of 36 F-15QAs to Qatar and sources have indicated that Qatar actually has an overall requirement for 72 new fighters, likely to be split three-ways between the F-15, Dassault Rafale (24 already ordered) and Eurofighter Typhoon — 24 of each.

 

October 2016

F-15C/D upgrades

The US Air Force (USAF) is to moving ahead with plans to re-wing its Boeing F-15C/D Eagle fleet as it looks to maintain the type at the forefront of capabilities over the coming decades.

The US Air Force is looking to replace the wings of its 235 single-seat F-15C and twin-seat F-15D aircraft as it looks to maintain the type in service through to 2045. (US Air Force)The US Air Force is looking to replace the wings of its 235 single-seat F-15C and twin-seat F-15D aircraft as it looks to maintain the type in service through to 2045. (US Air Force)

An industry day for the F-15C Service-Life Extension Program (SLEP) is being held at Robins Air Force Base (AFB) in Georgia on 13 October to consider options for the re-winging of all 235 F-15C/D aircraft in the USAF's inventory to see the type through to its projected out-of-service date of 2045.

As noted on the Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) website, the new wing will be the same stronger unit as that fitted to the F-15E Strike Eagle variant; be capable of 14 years of flying at current worst usage severity before needing depot-level inspections; maintain the current F-15C/D outer-mould line and existing fuselage interfaces; maintain compatibility with the original aerodynamic and structural properties; show airworthiness compliance without additional full-scale durability testing; and be compatible with all existing aircraft and weapons systems to include fuel, hydraulic, electrical, and environment control systems.

Industry day briefing slides posted on the day of the event note that the USAF is looking to receive the first three production prototype wing sets in fiscal year (FY) 2020. Delivery of 10 low-rate initial production (LRIP) sets will take place in 2022, to be followed by the remaining full-rate production (FRP) wings at a rate of about 40 a year through to 2028.

Companies attending the industry day comprise the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Boeing; current wing manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI); and sub-contractors CPI Aerostructures, Yulista Aviation, Constellium, Kitco Defense, Cherokee Nation Aerospace and Defense, FQ&P Aviation Limited, and Herndon Products.

A formal request for proposals (RfP) is expected to be issued in the fourth quarter of FY 2017.

Twelve F-15C/D of the 131st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron deploy to Europe

At the beginning of April 12 F-15C/D Eagles and approximately 350 Airmen and support equipment belonging to the 131st Fighter Squadron, Barnes Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts, and the 194th Fighter Squadron, Fresno Air National Guard Base, California, deployed to the European theater for a 6-month tour in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The arrival of these F-15s marked the latest iteration of a Theater Security Package (TSP), a temporary deployment of CONUS (Continental US) of a force whose aim is to augment the Air Force presence in a specific region, for deterrence purposes. The TSP “will conduct training alongside NATO allies and partners as part of OAR to strengthen interoperability, demonstrate the U.S. commitment to a Europe that is whole, free, at peace, secure, and prosperous and to deter further Russian aggression,” according to a USAF statement.

 The F-15s flew to two separate locations simultaneously: Keflavik, in Iceland, to undertake air policing duties in support of NATO, and Leeuwarden Air Base, Netherlands to join the lare, international exercise Frisian Flag. As done by the TSPs last year, during their six months in theater, the F-15s will also forward deploy to other NATO and partner nations to include Bulgaria, Estonia and Romania.

 

Febbruary 2016:

493rd F.S. train in Portugal during exercise Real Thaw

More than 100 Airmen from the 48th Fighter Wing reported to Portugal to train with Portuguese, Belgian, Danish, French, Dutch, Norwegian, Spanish and other NATO ally forces, Feb. 22 – March 3. Real Thaw is a Portuguese-led, large joint and combined forces exercise that trains participating forces on a vast range of battlefield missions sets. Forces participating will execute training missions aimed to merge and fully employ different platforms covering defensive and offensive counter air operations, high value air assets protection and close air support.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to be here in Portugal,” said Lt. Col. Rob Fowler, 493rd Fighter Squadron operations supervisor. “We’re excited to be here working side by side with our NATO allies honing our joint air inoperability as well as tactical skills.”

Aircraft participating in the exercise include NATO E-3A aircraft, F-15C Eagles from the 48th FW, C-130J Super Hercules from the 86th Airlift Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, as well as other partner aircraft. “Real Thaw gives us the opportunity to train and learn from other countries experiences,” said “Buzzer,” 301st Portuguese Air Base 5 F-16M pilot. “Here we are able to effectively learn how to use each other’s assets and how to play together if there is ever a time we come together in a deployed theater.”

“Working with our NATO allies is crucial to joint inoperability.” Fowler said. “It’s a good opportunity to plan, train and execute these missions in a non-combat location so we’re prepared if the day comes and we deploy with our ally forces.” Participating in exercises like Real Thaw are an important component to remaining “Forward, Ready, Now,” for the 48th FW. Real Thaw offers training opportunities for Liberty Airmen to train and hone operational skills in a non-combat zone.

 

January 2016:

Talon HATE system for USAF F-15C

The US Air Force has begun testing a radical 'brainpod' set to give the F-15 fighter a new lease of life - as well as double its firepower.

Known as the Talon HATE system, it will will improve communication and information sharing among various platforms, creating a secure 'war internet'. It is expected to give a new lease of life to the F-15, which first flew in 1972.

'Talon HATE combines information from fighter networks, national sources and joint command and control assets,' said Boeing, which build the pod. 'Transmitting over data-links, the information can then be used by joint aircraft, ships and ground stations, improving communication and information sharing across the battlespace.' Earlier this year, it revealed the system as part of a major update to the supersonic F-15C air superiority jet designed to keep the aging fleet operationally relevant through 2040.

Called 2040C, the upgrade package includes 'quad pack' munitions racks designed to double the aircraft's air-to-air missile payload to 16 and new fuel tanks for extended-range flights. Scheduled to be initially carried by F-15C fighter aircraft, the new pod combines information from fourth and fifth-generation fighter aircraft, national sources and joint command and control assets.

 

November 2015:

Israel request extra F-15 Squadron, possibly new F-15Silent Eagle

An additional squadron of advanced Boeing F-15s has been revealed as one of the elements of a so-called "compensation package" requested by Israel in exchange for the US government backing a lifting of sanctions against Iran. Israeli sources confirm that details of the request were agreed during a recent meeting between the defence ministers of the USA and Israel in Washington DC. This included the Israeli air force expressing its operational need for another squadron of F-15s, to ensure that the type can remain the "backbone" of its capabilities. While details of the F-15 request have not been released, the sources say that it involves the latest Silent Eagle-standard aircraft, which would also be equipped with Israeli-developed systems. Enhancements introduced with the advanced strike asset include the ability to carry an increased number of air-launched weapons and the addition of conformal fuel tanks for extended-range performance.

 

September 2015:

New 16 Air-To-Air Missile Carrying F-15 Eagle Configurations

Boeing is putting its latest and greatest combat aircraft developments on show for industry in Washington. This includes new F-15 configurations that allow the 43-year-old design to lug 16 air-to-air missiles into combat instead of the standard eight it carries today. According to Boeing artwork floating around the net, this includes the activation of the number one and number nine weapon stations on the outer wings, or possibly by hefting a multiple ejector rack capable of carrying a pair of AIM-120 AMRAAMs on the Strike Eagle’s conformal fuel tanks. It’s speculated that some modifications have been made to the Eagle’s existing conformal fuel tank design to make this possible. Additionally, a new pylon for the Eagle’s standard wing hardpoints capable of carrying four missiles instead of two looks to be a key part of the concept. This new Eagle offering may not be exclusive to new-build aircraft alone and could be able to be applied to various Eagle variants to varying degrees, depending on the operator’s needs. Conformal fuel tanks can even be fitted to existing F-15C/Ds, so this type of modification may not be limited to the F-15 Strike Eagle series alone.

F-15Boeing.jpg

 

July 2015:

493rd Fighter Squadron receive new AN/APG-63V3 radar

The 'Reaper' Eagles are currently undergoing one of the type’s most significant evolutions with the retrofit of the new Raytheon AN/APG-63(V)3 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. ‘In the air it’s phenomenal’, says Col Novotny, current commander of the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath. ‘It’s a game changer. I’ve flown every radar variant in the F-15C, V0 right up to the V3. With this new radar we have long-range detection, multi-target tracking, the ability to work combat identification while continuing to sanitize the airspace, even in an environment where there may be jamming present.’
Further enhancing the long-range qualities of the F-15C, this new radar is now being coupled with the latest standard of Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), Raytheon’s AIM-120D. ‘I’ve worked with AIM-120D and I’m very happy with where we’re at’, comments Col Novotny. ‘We just sent the 493rd FS to Tyndall and they did the first operational AIM-120D shots — they were eye watering! Range, performance, reliability, you name it: the 120D did exceptionally well.'

 

January 2015:

493rd Fighter Squadron Best Air Superiority Squadron

The 493d Fighter Squadron "Grim Reapers" won the 2014 RAYTHEON TROPHY as the BEST Air Superiority Fighter Squadron in the US Air Force. The excellence of the Grim Reaper operations and maintenance team brings the trophy back to RAF Lakenheath for the fourth time. It was a close call with 13 Fighter Squadron from Misawa, Japan, the 77th Fighter Squadron from Shaw in the US and 121st Fighter Squadron from the Columbia Air National Guard, but the 493rd came out on top. Congrats 'Grim Reapers' for this excellent performance!

 Israel to upgrade F-15Is with new radar

The Israeli air force is upgrading the capabilities of its Boeing F-15I strike aircraft, including the installation of a new radar system. The sensor most likely to be fitted is the Raytheon APG-82(V)1 active electronically scanned array, which was also fitted to the US Air Force's F-15Es in place of the ageing APG-70. The selection of the US-made radar instead of an Israeli-designed option is likely the result of the fact that Israel can purchase the APG-82(V)1 using the Foreign Military Funding it receives annually from the USA.
"The F-15I is still our strategic jet. It holds the largest number of capabilities and has the ability to carry many weapons and reach far destinations," the head of the F-15I branch told the air force's website. Tasks range from "routine missions related to the combat formation to special missions which will remain confidential", says the official – identified only as Maj A.
Israel's comprehensive systems upgrade for the F-15I is a direct outcome of a delay in the delivery of the Lockheed Martin F-35.

 

October 2014:

RAF Lakenheath based 493rd FS looses F-15D after crash

On October the 8th 2014 the Lakenheath based 493rd Fighter Squadron lost one of their two F-15D two-seater Eagles after a crash. The F-15D (86-0182/LN) crashed during a training sortie at 15:30lt in a field near Spalding, north-west of RAF Lakenheath in Lincolnshire. Fortunately the only pilot, using callsign 'Hitman' onboard ejected safely and nobody was hurt when the Eagle came down.

 

August 2014:

Singapore expanding F-15SG fleet?:

Singapore appears to have quietly boosted the size of its F-15SG fleet from 24 aircraft to 40, according to Boeing financial statements, aircraft registration filings, and US congressional reports. Singapore originally bought 12 F-15SGs - with an option for eight more - under a contract signed in December 2005. In October 2007 the city-state modified this option by buying 12 more to give it a total of 24. These aircraft have all been confirmed as delivered and have US-type serial numbers running from 05-0001 to 05-0024. Several remain in the United States with the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF's) 428th Fighter Squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base (AFB) in southwestern Idaho, while the remainder are active in Singapore with 149 Squadron.

In January 2014, several aircraft with new serial numbers - 05-0025, 05-0028, 05-0030, 05-0031, and 05-0032 - were seen at Mountain Home AFB. These had not been previously reported and suggest that Singapore has obtained another batch of eight aircraft. Meanwhile, a 26 November 2012 letter from the US State Department to House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner under the Arms Export Control Act refers to the "sale, modification, and follow-on support of eight F-15SG aircraft to the Government of Singapore". Finally, on 5-6 August 2014, Boeing took out civil aircraft registrations for what it described as F-15SG aircraft: N361SG, N363SG, N366SG, N368SG, N373SG, N376SG, N378SG and N837SG.Neither Boeing nor the Singapore Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) would confirm whether the city-state had acquired 16 more F-15s than previously disclosed, although they also did not deny it.

493rd FS deploy to Bulgaria:

Troops and fighter aircraft from the 493rd Fighter Squadron have been sent to Bulgaria as tensions in Eastern Europe continue to run high. A dozen F-15s and approximately 180 personnel from the 493rd, based at RAF Lakenheath, England, have deployed to Graf Ignatievo Air Base to participate in a two-week bilateral training exercise with the Bulgarian air force, Pentagon spokesmen Col. Steve Warren told reporters Monday.
"The exercise began Monday and will continue through Sept. 1. The purpose of the deployment is to conduct training and focus on maintain joint readiness while building interoperability", Warren said.
The move comes at a time when America's Eastern European partners and allies are concerned about Russian military intervention in Ukraine. There are fears that Moscow might try to destabilize other countries in the region.

65th AGRS to be deavtivated in September:

Lt. Col. Greg Wintill, commander of the 65th Aggressor Squadron, confirmed last week that his squadron of 19 camouflage-painted F-15 Eagles will be deactivated in a ceremony on Sept. 26 in order to meet Pentagon budget constraints before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
"We are having to deal the best we can with the money we have", told Wintill the Review-Journal in an interview at the squadrons Lt. Col. Thomas A. Bouley Building. The building is named for a past commander of the 65th who was killed July 30, 2008, when his two-seat, F-15D jet crashed during training at the Nellis range complex, now known as the Nevada Test and Training Range.
"This deactivation, while we as a squadron don't necessarily want it to happen, it's what the Air Force needs to have happen for the financial constraints that were being put in", Wintill said.
It's unclear of the exact cost savings, but the squadron's annual budget that will be eliminated is about $35 million, including funding for a staff of 150 airmen who maintain the jets. Some have already left the unit.
Wintill said six F-15s plus a spare jet will be transferred temporarily to the 64th Aggressor Squadron at Nellis, which consists primarily of newer F-16 camo-painted Fighting Falcon jets. There will be no trimming of the 64th's 20 F-16s to offset the addition of F-15s, a base spokesman said.
Those six F-15s and nine pilots will fly Red Flag training from September until the end of March, when they will be transferred to other units or discontinued as operational aircraft. About 90 maintainers from the 65th will make the six-month transfer to the 64th.
A dozen of the the 65th's F-15C jets will be transferred to the Air National Guard. The six that remain operational through March will be sent to the Air Force boneyard near Tucson, Ariz., after they complete their Red Flag missions, which are typically held three times a year.

July 2014:

                                      


Pentagon may delay deactivation of Lakenheath's based 493rd Fighter Squadron:

The Pentagon may delay the planned withdrawal of U.S. Air Force F-15C fighter jets from Europe, and possibly increase aircraft rotations to the continent, as part of an effort to reassure allies and boost assistance to the region in the wake of Russia\u2019s recent aggression in Ukraine, officials told members of Congress Wednesday.
In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Pentagon leaders were pressed to provide more details about the White House Europe Reassurance Initiative, a $1 billion funding plan announced by the White House in June. The subject of Wednesday's hearing was the Pentagon's fiscal 2015 overseas contingency operations budget request for $58.6 billion. Money for the new European mission is part of that request.
Indications that the Defense Department may reconsider removing some of its F-15C aircraft from Europe come less than a month after Gen. Philip Breedlove, commander of U.S. European Command and North Atlantic Treaty Organization Supreme Allied Command, told reporters at the Pentagon that he expected to see reductions to the F-15 force in Europe.
Breedlove's statement followed an Air Force announcement in March that it wants to retire 51 F-15C Eagles, including 21 based overseas, starting in fiscal 2015. In Europe, there are 21 F-15Cs assigned to RAF Lakenheath, England, serving with the 493rd Fighter Squadron.
But the recent flare-up of tensions in eastern Europe, fanned by the Russian takeover of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, has set U.S. allies in the region on edge and forced the United States to rethink and reprioritize its defense strategy in Europe.
Part of that may involve keeping F-15Cs in Europe for longer. The aircraft in May concluded a four-month Baltic air-policing mission while deployed to Lithuania. The mission was augmented in March after the crisis between Russia and Ukraine broke out.

First USAF F-15E receives new APG-82 radar:

The first 389th Fighter Squadron F-15E Strike Eagle received a Radar Modernization Program upgrade in June. The inaugural flight with the new radar system was flown by Capt. Matthew Riley, 389th Fighter Squadron pilot, and Maj. Jacob Lindaman, 389th FS weapon systems officer.
"The new radar system does everything faster, is extremely precise and requires less maintenance," Riley said. "It can designate air-to-air and air-to-ground simultaneously, allowing us to track enemy aircraft and identify ground targets at the same time."
"In order to maintain our combat edge in today's challenging environment, Air Combat Command must balance resources between refurbishing our existing fleet and investing in future weapon systems," said Gen. Mike Hostage, ACC commander.
The RMP replaces the F-15E's more than 20-year-old legacy APG-70 mechanically scanned radar with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) system designated as the APG-82(V)1.
"The old radar system is hydraulic, has moving parts and requires three maintainers to perform repairs after every 30 flight hours," said Master Sgt. Jennifer Schildgen, 366th Fighter Wing avionics manager. "The new radar system is a beam scan, doesn't have any moving parts and is projected to only require one maintainer to perform repairs after more than 2,000 flight hours."