Via a reader: Another thorn in the F-22 and F-35 side
Boeing recently released information on a new variant of the F-15 family, the F-15SE “Silent Eagle”, which features stealth technologies and upgraded avionics. It would compete directly with F-22 and F-35 for international sales.
“The F-15 Silent Eagle is designed to meet our international customers’ anticipated need for cost-effective stealth technologies, as well as for large and diverse weapons payloads,” said Mark Bass, F-15 Program vice president for Boeing. “The innovative Silent Eagle is a balanced, affordable approach designed to meet future survivability needs.”
Similar to full stealth fighters, the F-15SE will have different roles and configurations in the opening phase of an air campaign and in the sustainment phase, after air superiority is achieved. Flying with full ‘RCS Reduction Package’ the F-15SE will be able to carry Air-to-Air (AIM-9 and AIM-120) missiles and air-to-ground munitions to include JDAM and SDB. The aircraft could be configured to F-15SE Multirole Capable aircraft in approximately two hours, providing long range weapon capability, employing missiles such as the SLAM-ER and Harpoon Block II missiles or any other type of weapon qualified for the Strike eagle. In this configuration the aircraft will retain a total fuel capacity of 34,700 lbs at a maximum takeoff gross weight of 81,000 lbs (carrying 29,500 lbs of payload).
According to Boeing estimates, utilizing the twin F110-GE-129 engines the Silent Eagle will be able to reach an approximate mission radius of 800 nautical miles (nm) on air/ground missions and 720 nm on combat air patrols (CAP), employing the RCS reduction kit. Baseline CFT equipped F-15SE can reach 1000 nm on ground attack and 900 nm on CAP. 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). The standard, external weapons load used on current versions of the F-15 is available with the traditional CFTs installed.
Seems to me that this might be an attractive alternative to nations looking to upgrade but unwilling or unable to pay F-35 prices. That would explain the “thorn” lede, as a cheaper (though less capable) option may be exactly what some customers are hoping for.