• The F-15 has been in use for almost 45 years.
  • The new technology available for the plane makes it virtually untouchable.
  • With the cost of modern aircraft rising, the $1.1 billion price for 8 aircraft is attractive.

The President is expected to sign the compromise "defense authorization bill" that has passed both the House and the Senate. The bill will allow the U.S. Air Force (USAF) to acquire eight F-15EX "Advanced Eagle" fighters in the fiscal year 2020.

The aircraft will be an excellent addition to the planes that the USAF currently operates. The coming year will unveil a new force of aircraft as the F-35A is beginning to rotate into active service. So what makes the new F-15 so unique? The last order of F-15s was 20 years ago, and the airframe has been in production for 44 years.

Boeing acquired the aircraft when it purchased McDonnell Douglas in 1997, around the same time that the last orders were placed for the said fighter. The USAF was moving towards a fleet of stealth aircraft, but cost levels have forced another alternative, upgrades to existing platforms.

The new F-15 does not have stealth capabilities, but it does have an unprecedented weapons capacity and ability to carry many different weapons. The F-15 can carry an impressive amount of 29,500 pounds of weapons. It can carry 12 air to air weapons and 15 air to ground weapons.

f-15 fighter jet
Representation. A F-15 fighter jet. Reuters

The new "Eagle" will come with two F110-GE-129E engines that will allow the planes to get to targets faster. The jet will be able to operate up to 1000NM from its base of operation and stay in the theatre for up to two hours at that range. That will give it an unparalleled advantage over any adversaries.

The sensors and radars have been upgraded too, allowing the pilot to track and maintain target information in real-time. The new flight controls are digital fly by wire, meaning that all flight surfaces are controlled electronically.

The sweet part of this is the fixed contract offer from Boeing. This means that if the project goes overbudget, Boeing will absorb the extra costs as it has in the past with other projects. Having that kind of guarantee makes this a complete win for the USAF.

The eight aircraft in the current order is just the tip of the iceberg, though, as the USAF is looking to acquire 144 more of them in the future. The price point of the current contract at $1.1 billion for eight planes is not looking bad.