Boeing Unveils F-15SE ‘Silent Eagle’

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.”

Missile Bay on F-15SE

Missile Bay on F-15SE

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.


  1. Nice, and I’m glad to see Boeing continue to advance the aircraft arts in both new and existing technology. But . . .
    I hope that they themselves have left a small opening somewhere that our own U S military will be able to detect these new SE’s, once they’re sold overseas. Because once they’ve gone across the ponds (either direction), then eventually, either the aircraft, or the stealth technology itself, will find their way to those who are not friendly to us and our interests. And we will be faced against our own weapons. Not a comforting thought for the future.

  2. Since we have a solid base of pilots and techs trained in the F-15 and the F-35 is always a day away, the f-22 on the chopping block, why not recapitalize our forces by buy 300 or so silent eagles. Much easier to maintain new jets then trying to hang on to 20+ year old jets.

  3. I’m sure there’s a price to pay for the stealthiness.

    Just from the picture, I’d say the missile load out for air combat looks to be halved, from 4 each AIM-9s and -120s to 2 of each. From the numbers in the article, it looks like being stealthy costs about 20% in terms of range as well.

    Now, having the missiles stowed internally may have some speed and handling advantages, too, that aren’t mentioned.

    Be interesting to see if Boeing tried to add thrust vectoring engines to the package.

  4. When I think of the F-15, I always think of the straight, twin vertical tail. But on this model, that will change. “The aircraft’s canted vertical tails improve aerodynamic efficiency, provide lift, and reduce airframe weight.”

    I wonder why it took them over 35 years to determine a canted tail was superior to the straight one?

    Also, why is this new model based on the 2 seat E model? The F-22 and F-35 are single seaters. You would think they could put enough avionics in this to base it on the C model.

  5. No the silent eagle’s RCS is not in the F-22 class. That said, canted tails, engine inlet covers and internal weapon loads should be able to reduce the RCS by 70-80% more then enough for the Eagle to gain a senor range advantage over most other foes.

    In a lot of respects, this “bolt on” concept of stealth is superior to the F-35 ground up “half assed” stealth design. The F-15 can always ditch the stealth for a full combat load out and this partial stealth treatment means a lot less maintenance.

  6. I would be totally in favor of some new-build F-15s for particular uses. Why send F-22s and F-35s to bomb stone-age barbarians hiding in caves? Planes only have so many hours.

    Won’t happen, of course.

  7. With F-22 production stopped and questions remaining about the number of F-35s to be purchased, an updated F-15 (new production) with supermanuverability and an increased missle payload would be an affordable way to prepare for the future needs that are actually being faced rather than the cold war threats for which the F-22 was designed. (We have already paid for much of the research into supermanuverability with the ACTIV/MATV programs.)

    Secretary Gates has often spoken about “the 75% solution” because of the costs of the last 25% which make a weapon system too expensive to acquire in the numbers which would actually be desirable.

    There is talk of F-22s running engagements in excess of 15 to 1, the only problem there is that they do not carry enough missles to engage that many opponents (even considering projects to have “missle carrier” aircraft to launch on their command). The numbers do matter.

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  9. Canada just bought 65 F-35’s for 9 billion dollars plus a 7 billion dollar maint contract over 20 years.(133million per aircraft) This is going to have to replace 138 CF-18’s. If the F-15SE is a capable interceptor then I would rather have it as a NORAD fighter. I am not sure how effective the F-15SE is in Air to Air as it is based on a bomber.

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