On August 22, Boeing signed a fighter jet contract with Indonesia. Indonesia will purchase 24 F15EX fighter jets, and Indonesia has also become the first overseas user of F15EX. As a heavy-duty air superiority fighter as famous as the Su-27, the F15 series has been around for nearly half a century. It is already one of the most successful fighters in the world today.
However, today when fifth-generation aircraft are prevalent, it still has no intention of withdrawing from active service. Instead, it is constantly improving. The F15EX is the latest improved version of this fighter. So what is so special about the F15 series that makes it a fighter? An evergreen tree? Why does Indonesia want to purchase 24 of the latest model F15EX?
The F15 was born during the Cold War in the 1970s and 1980s. It was initially a single-seat air superiority fighter. Now, the largest number in the world is not the original F15A/B, but the F15E.
The F15E is a multi-purpose two-seat fighter. This fighter is also one of the main forces of the US Air Force. Thanks to its large size, it can usually carry more fuel and weapons than other multi-purpose fighters. The extra large fuel The box allows it to have longer air control time and provide more emergency air support tasks.
The F15E can carry almost all the air-to-ground ammunition currently in service in the US military, including Sparrow air-to-surface missiles, air-launched Harpoon anti-ship missiles and the AIM120 series of advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles.
When it comes to air-to-ground combat, the F15E can also carry a series of ground attack weapons, such as AGM65 Maverick missiles, AGM158 joint air-to-ground defense missiles, and can also be equipped with various ground bombs, which can provide a wide range of mission adaptability. Options, which include laser-guided bombs, universal bombs, GBU28 ground penetrating bombs, GBU39 small diameter bombs, GBU53B Tempest glide bombs, and to complement their complex weapons systems, all F15Es are also equipped with a 20mm General Electric M61A1 Vulcan Gatling Cannon.
During the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, the F15E was the only fighter capable of performing ground attack missions in all weather conditions. At that time, the F15E from the North Carolina Air Force Base in the United States used laser-guided bombs to destroy several Iraqi Mi-24 armed helicopters parked on the ground during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
The F15E has also flown over enemy territory many times, braved intensive anti-aircraft fire on the ground, and successfully destroyed Iraq’s Scud missile launch points, proving its excellent air-to-ground attack capabilities. In order to further improve the performance of the F15E, the US military has adopted the Boeing F15E modernization and upgrade plan. This plan will enhance its comprehensive capabilities, including the latest glass cockpit.
The old legacy APG70 mechanical scan radar is being replaced by the new phased array radar system APG82V1, which is designed to retain the functionality of the older legacy radar system while providing expanded mission application capabilities. The APG82V1 radar enables the F15EX to bridge the gap between it and the fifth-generation fighter to a certain extent.
In addition, the F15EX is also equipped with a night-time infrared targeting pod, which significantly enhances its precision strike capabilities, provides infrared and laser positioning capabilities for day and night operations, and can perform missions even in severe weather conditions.
Another important targeting system is the sniper targeting pod and is known for its long-range target detection and identification capabilities with high-resolution imagery and laser designation of guided missiles. In addition, the F15EX can also be equipped with the AAQ28 Lightning targeting pod, which is an integrated targeting pod mounted externally on the fuselage.
One of the most important improvements of the F15EX is the adoption of the latest glass cockpit, which uses a large-size display screen to replace the original two-level and one-level design, which has the flavor of a fifth-generation aircraft.
These screens can display information from radar, electronic warfare or infrared sensors, monitor aircraft or weapons status. And possible threats, select targets, and navigate using electronic moving maps.
Two manual controllers are use to switch back and forth between displaying different content and optimizing positioning information on the screen. The desired content can be display anywhere on this huge screen, selected from the display options menu.
In addition to the huge screen in the front seat. pilots also have a new clear glass heads-up display above eye level, displaying key flight and tactical information.
The pilot does not need to look down at the cockpit, for example. To check the status of weapons at night. The screen display is even more important because the video picture it displays is almost identical to the image generated by the forward-looking infrared sensor.
The F15EX will be equip with the new Pratt & Whitney GE-F110-129 engine. Compared with the F100PW220 engine equipped with the old model, the new engine will be more cost-effective.
In addition, the F15EX will have a stronger body structure, with a lifespan twice as long as that of the early F15 model. It will also be coated with new wave-absorbing materials to give it a certain degree of stealth. It can be saay that the F15EX will be the most powerful Eagle series in history.
Expected that this fighter will continue to serve until 2040 and beyond. In 2021, Boeing announced that its F15EX will replace the existing F15C. And part of the F15E, and will follow the design of the Strike Eagle. Equipped with a two-seat configuration, and further improve its ground attack capabilities. The US military is considering replacing the remaining F15E with the F35 variant. Attacking eagle.
However, designing a two-seat model on the F35 will be a very complex and expensive modification project. Especially in order to maintain the stealth characteristics and provide greater range and payload. The F15EX can be say to be an ideal model that currently forms a high-low match with the F35. It may also be able to perform missions with future sixth-generation fighters.
Currently, the U.S. Air Force has 218 F15Es, with an average age of more than 30 years. The U.S. Air Force plans to gradually retire F15Es to 99 in the next few years. While purchasing more F35s and F15EXs to make up for the lack of retired F15Es. The U.S. Air Force has pland An additional 24 F15EXs will be purchase in the 2024 military budget.
So why does the Indonesian Air Force want to purchase 24 F15EXs?
In fact, this is also an urgent need for the Indonesian Air Force to upgrade its aircraft. Currently, the Indonesian Air Force is mainly equip with three types of fighter jets. One is the F16AB import in the 1980s, and the other is the Su-27S. Su-27S purchased from Russia in the early 2000s and 2010. Su 30MK.
These fighter jets have been in service for a long time, especially the F16AB, which is nearing retirement. The only newer Su-30MK has been in service for nearly ten years. The Indonesian Air Force has indeed reached a time when it needs to update its main equipment for its air force.
Secondly, the United States also urgently needs to return to the Asia-Pacific. And Indonesia is undoubtedly one of the best places to stay. In fact, Indonesia initially targeted Russia’s Su-35S, but due to the onset of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. And the obstruction of the United States, the contract was shelve. As compensation, the United States proposed to Indonesia that it could sell F15EX to Indonesia.
For Indonesia, although the F15EX is indeed more expensive than the Su-35S. Its comprehensive performance is also more advanced than the Su-35S. Since the Su-35S is also a fighter jet, and the F15EX is also a fighter jet. If you can’t buy one for the time being, then you can buy it. It doesn’t matter, if the price difference is too high, you can buy a few less ones if your budget is too much.
At the same time, the United States also hopes to find some work for Boeing’s military industry department by selling F15EX to Indonesia. After all, the main types of fighter jets of the U.S. Air Force are all produced by Lockheed Martin. Boeing’s military industry department has grown rapidly in the past ten years. Except for F15EX, there are no other works that can be use.
As for where Indonesia will deploy the F15EX after purchasing it. We will have to wait and see what impact it will have on the current situation in the Asia-Pacific. Especially the situation where the United States is clamping down on China.