Boeing's F-15EX Eagle II: Advancements and Global Interest

Boeing is set to test the third F-15EX Eagle II development aircraft for the U.S. Air Force, following its rollout from the St. Louis factory in August, more than two years after the first two F-15EXs were delivered to the U.S. Air Force in early 2021 for testing. The delay was partly due to supply chain issues, but primarily because of the urgent nature of the USAF’s program. The first two aircraft, EX-1 and EX-2, were Advanced Eagle airframes initially intended for Qatar but reassigned to the U.S. Air Force to expedite testing. 


During this time, Boeing updated its manufacturing process based on a digital redesign of the F-15’s forward fuselage. The third aircraft, EX-3, is the first to be produced with the new design, which is now the standard for all future production. This redesign allows for more efficient production, including increased use of robotics.

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The F-15EX is the first U.S. Air Force aircraft to undergo concurrent developmental and operational test and evaluation (DT&E/OT&E), thanks to the extensive experience gained with earlier versions of the F-15. The first two aircraft have now completed Initial OT&E Phase 1. The next four aircraft will also be allocated to trial duties, while EX-3/4 joins the fleet this year and the first two operational aircraft (EX-7/8) will be handed over to the Air National Guard at an unspecified time.

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Boeing is currently under contract for Lots 1-4, with Lot 5 imminent. The Air Force plans to purchase 104 aircraft in six Lots, but this is not confirmed. The current production rate is 1.5 aircraft per month, but this is expected to increase to two per month by 2025, with production of the 104 aircraft due for completion in 2028. The F-15EX is closely based on the Advanced Eagle models procured by Saudi Arabia (F-15SA) and Qatar (F-15QA). These models introduced iterative enhancements, such as General Electric F110-GE-129 engines, ALQ-82(V)1 AESA radar, a large-area display in the cockpit, and the ability to carry up to 12 air-to-air missiles or 15 tonnes of ordnance. A digital fly-by-wire flight control system eliminates the previous need to avoid asymmetric loads and cross-control maneuvers, while restricting normal airframe load to 9Gs and speed to Mach 2.5, although the airframe can exceed both in extreme situations. The aircraft’s power and maneuverability are being exhibited at the Dubai Airshow in the spectacular flying display flown by a Boeing test pilot in a Qatari F-15QA. Another key feature of the F-15EX is the BAE Systems ALQ-250 Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS), which represents a major enhancement in the system's ability to adapt rapidly to emerging threats. EPAWSS is in the final stages of development, and an export-optimized version is also being formulated. Boeing has received significant interest in the F-15EX and its new systems, including from all current legacy Eagle customers and covering both new-build aircraft or using elements of the EX/Advanced Eagle for deep modernization programs such as that underway in Japan. Israel has expressed intentions to purchase new F-15EXs, but talks remain on hold due to the Gaza crisis. The F-15EX has also sparked renewed interest in the Eagle from several other nations. In August, Indonesia signed a memorandum of understanding with Boeing to pursue a requirement of 24 aircraft, while Poland has recently initiated discussions concerning the potential acquisition of 32.

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