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Posted by on Mar 18, 2009 in At TMV | 4 comments

Boeing Unveils Its F-15 Silent Eagle—With Fifth-Generation “Add-Ons”

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Boeing yesterday unveiled the F-15 Silent Eagle (F-15SE) which, according to Boeing, “… is designed to meet our international customers’ anticipated need for cost-effective stealth technologies, as well as for large and diverse weapons payloads,” and “The innovative Silent Eagle is a balanced, affordable approach designed to meet future survivability needs.”

While not a “fifth generation” aircraft like the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II, or Joint Strike Fighter, some experts describe this new F-15 configuration as an aircraft with such fifth-generation “add-ons” as stealthy radar absorbent coatings and treatments, and the canting of both horizontal stabilizers by 15 degrees; redesigned conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) that allow for internal weapons carriage; integrated digital avionics and a distinctive V-tail.

Boeing claims that with all these add-ons, the aircraft will match the frontal-aspect stealth profile of any fifth generation fighter in configurations cleared by the US government for export release.

According to Boeing, and depending on the specific mission, the customer can use the CFTs that are designed for internal carriage or change back to the traditional CFTs for optimum fuel capacity and external weapons carriage. The Silent Eagle will be able to internally carry air-to-air missiles such as the AIM-9 and AIM-120 and air-to-ground weapons such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and Small Diameter Bomb (SDB).

According to Flightglobal

To be fair, Boeing acknowledges the F-15SE’s stealth improvements do not help against ground-based radar systems, which are critical for waging offensive strikes against opponents armed with surface to air missile systems. Lowering the F-15SE’s thermal signature — a critical stealthy feature for the Lockheed Martin F-22 – is also not part of Boeing plans..

Boeing plans to flight-test a prototype by the first quarter of 2010, including a live missile launch. Preliminary cost estimates for the Silent Eagle are $100 million each, including spares and training.

Also, according to Flightglobal, Boeing plans to offer the F-15SE to five foreign countries—Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Israel and Saudi Arabia, all current F-15 customers—with an estimated market for 190 orders.

It should be noted that Boeing is presently addressing only foreign sales for its F-15SE, and mainly in the Middle East and Asian markets. “The F-15’s single-largest customer – the US Air Force – is not officially a sales target for the F-15SE.”

The F-15 SE could thus conceivably compete in those markets with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. Especially where the military can not or does not want to wait much longer to replace their aging fighter fleets, and where presently the F-15 Eagles (F-15C, F-15D, F-15SG, F-15I, F-15J, F-15K, etc.) are a significant part of their fighter fleets, and where an F-15 follow-up would be attractive in terms of training, standardization and logistics support.

We’ll follow-up with more information on the F-15 Silent Eagle as such becomes available.

Image: Courtesy Boeing

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