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    HomeMilitaryThe F-15EX Eagle II: A Formidable Non-Stealth Fighter Flexes Its Muscles

    The F-15EX Eagle II: A Formidable Non-Stealth Fighter Flexes Its Muscles

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    210514-F-JG201-1103” by AirmanMagazine is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    The U.S. Air Force’s latest fighter jet, the F-15EX Eagle II, may lack the stealth capabilities synonymous with modern air combat, but it compensates with a suite of upgrades and performance parameters that ensure its prominence in the USAF’s air superiority strategy.

    220421-F-FD742-0808” by Joint Base San Antonio is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    With a notable price tag of around $90 million per unit, the F-15EX has been introduced to serve alongside the stealthier F-22s and F-35s and the future NGAD sixth-generation fighter, filling a critical role in the nation’s defense.

    210426-F-XG347-1008” by pqgw is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    The F-15EX is a direct descendant of the F-15E Strike Eagle and was developed in response to an aging fleet and various procurement challenges faced by the USAF.

    F-15EX copy” by pqgw is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    Despite being an upgrade to a platform in service for about five decades, the F-15EX brings to the table modern systems like AESA radar, IRST, and EPAWSS, plus an updated cockpit and flight controls, extending its operational life to a substantial 20,000 hours.

    KC-46A Pegasus (ARRIS14/18-46046) tanker with F-15EX in trail over Pasadena” by tropicostation is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    These improvements suggest that while the Eagle II may not embody the future of fighter jets, it remains a formidable addition to any air force, earning the title of the deadliest Eagle to date.

    210505-F-HY271-0160” by AirmanMagazine is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    Critics point to the jet’s lack of stealth as a significant shortcoming, particularly in an era where stealth is often prized. However, not all missions necessitate stealth capabilities.

    210512-F-HY271-0087” by Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    The role envisioned for the F-15EX includes airbase defense, enforcement of no-fly zones, and deployment of standoff weapons, tasks where stealth may be less critical. The aircraft is a multirole strike fighter, capable of carrying a whopping 30,000 lbs of munitions, providing it with an edge in air-to-air and ground support roles.

    210512-F-HY271-0194” by Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    Speed and agility are among the Eagle II’s strong suits. With dual General Electric F100-PW-229 turbofans, it can reach Mach 2.5, making it an agile combatant in the skies. This high-speed capability is complemented by a payload that readies the F-15EX for certification with the new Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM), earmarking it as the first USAF jet capable of employing hypersonic missiles.

    210512-F-HY271-0256” by Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    In an age where speed is a crucial measure of a jet’s prowess, the F-15EX boasts near Mach 3 capability in a clean configuration, as noted by former F-15 pilot Robert “Blend’r” Novotny at the Singapore Airshow.

    210512-F-HY271-0224” by Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    “Remember, we’re testing when it’s clean,” Novotny emphasized. “So it’s not carrying a bunch of stuff on it.” The Eagle II’s raw speed outperforms the Soviet MiG-25 Foxbat and rivals the speed of the retired SR-71, albeit with certain caveats pertaining to the jet’s configuration and fuel load.

    F-117 Nighthawks land at JBER for Northern Edge 23-1” by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    The F-15EX also benefits from advanced fly-by-wire controls, which allow for performance on par with more agile fighters like the F-22 or Su-35.

    Photographer” by Joint Base San Antonio is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    This electronic control system offers more precise maneuverability, pushing the aircraft to the limits of its capability—a feature that boosts the F-15EX’s dogfighting prowess.

    Photographer” by Joint Base San Antonio is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    Despite these advantages and its impressive load-out, the F-15EX is seen as a stopgap measure—a way to maintain air superiority while next-generation projects come to fruition. The Air Force plans to buy just over a hundred units, which will likely be distributed to Air National Guard units.

    IMG_6023” by pqgw is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    While the F-15EX Eagle II may not be the stealth jet of tomorrow, it is undoubtedly a power player today, boasting high speeds, substantial payload capacity, and modern avionics to secure the skies.

    210504-F-XG347-1338” by AirmanMagazine is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    It stands as a testament to the adage that not all battles require silence—sometimes, sheer might and proven capability speak volumes.

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