Hello defence Lovers! We have another exciting topic to discuss in this article. Recently the American government has approved Boeing to offer its F-15 EX fighters to Indian Airforce’s MMRC 2.0. In this article, we would analyse its capabilities and try to figure out whether it is worth buying and what chances it has over its competitors.
F 15 In Details
The F-15 is an American twin-engine, all-weather tactical air superiority fighter aircraft designed by McDonnell Douglas (now owned by the aircraft manufacturing giant Boeing).In the 1960s US Airforce began a quest for a next-generation dedicated air superiority fighter and invited many Aircraft manufacturing companies to participate. Eventually, McDonnell Douglas’s design for the air superiority fighter was selected by the United States Airforce in 1967 to meet the need for a dedicated air superiority fighter. F15 also known as the ‘Eagle’ first flew in July 1972 and entered service in 1976. It is among the most successful modern air superiority fighters, with over 100 kills and no losses in aerial combat, with the majority of the kills by the Israeli Air Force.
The F-15 Eagle has been exported to several countries including to Israel, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. The F-15 was originally designed as a pure air-superiority aircraft. However later its strike versions known as 15 strike eagle were also made. Till this day over 1700 airframes of F 15 eagle and strike eagle have been produced.
Inspired By Mig 25?
F15 have somewhat resemblance to the Soviet Mig 25. The Americans right from Mig 25’s first flight were very interested in its capabilities and were especially concerned about its air superiority capabilities. As a result, the CIA and other intelligence agencies were after the Mig 25.
On September 6, 1976, the Americans got a chance to fulfil their dreams to examine and evaluate a real Mig 25! Lieutenant Viktor Belenko, a pilot of the Soviet Air Defence Forces, took off with his MiG-25P “Foxbat” aircraft from a base near Vladivostok in the Far East of the Soviet Union and never returned. Instead, he landed on Hakodate Airport in Hokkaido Prefecture of Japan. It was the results of successful undercover missions of the CIA.
The Japanese and American specialists disassembled and examined the Mig 25 when it arrived in Hakodate Airport. This examination and evaluation revealed to the US that, while impressive in speed, the MiG-25 was not the super-fighter that they had feared it to be, but rather a supersonic interceptor only. It was later returned to the USSR still disassembled with some parts missing.
This resulted in breaching of secrecy around the MiG-25 and thus it could be exported outside the Soviet Union. It was later operated by Algeria, Bulgaria, India, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. After the dissolution of the USSR it was also operated by the successor states Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan and Ukraine.
However, the Americans still found the design of the airframe very interesting. perhaps the later versions of F 15 eagle incorporated many features of Mig 25.
F 15 has a length of 16.43 meters, the height of 5.64 meters, a wingspan of 13,06 meters, Due to its enormous size it is also known as ‘the flying tennis court’. F 15 is highly manoeuvrable and thus is an excellent air superiority fighter.
- Crew: 1
- Length: 9.43 m
- Wingspan: 13.06 m
- Height: 5.64 m
- Wing area:56.5 m2
- Empty weight: 12,701 kg
- Gross weight: 20,185 kg
- Max takeoff weight: 30,844 kg
- Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 afterburning turbofans, 14,590 lbf (64.9 kN) thrust each dry, 23,770 lbf (105.7 kN) with afterburner
- Maximum speed: Mach 2.5 (1,650 mph, 2,655 km/h)
- Combat range: 1,061 nmi (1,221 mi, 1,965 km)
- Service ceiling: 65,000 ft (20,000 m)
- g limits: +9
- Rate of climb: 250 m/s
- Thrust/weight: 1.07 (1.26 with loaded weight and 50% internal fuel)
The F-15 EX
In 2018, the USAF and Boeing discussed a proposal for F-15X, a single-seat variant based on the airframe of previous F-15 but outfitted with modern avionics and weapon systems, intended to replace the USAF’s ageing F-15C/Ds.
The US air force opted for the F-15 EX to maintain its current fighter numbers after the premature termination of F-22 production, its ageing F-15C fleet, and F-35 delays. However, it is not expected to be survivable against modern air defences by, the F-15EX could perform homeland and airbase defence, no-fly zone enforcement against limited or no air defence systems, and deploying standoff munitions.
The F15Ex include several improvements which include the AMBER weapons rack to carry up to 22 air-to-air missiles, infrared search and track system (IRST), advanced avionics and electronic warfare equipment, AESA radar, and a revised structure with a service life of 20,000 hours.
The US Airforce plans to acquire 144 such F15 EX as of now. In August 2020, the Air Force announced plans to replace the Air National Guard’s ageing F-15Cs in Florida and Oregon with F-15EXs. The F-15EX took its maiden flight on 2 February 2021.
Does F-15 EX Makes sense
As far as the Indian Airforce is concerned, F-15 EX does not make any sense. It comes in the heavy category in which IAF already operates a large number of Su 30 MKIs. The Su 30 is way more manoeuvrable and lethal air superiority fighter and would become more lethal after the Super Sukhoi upgrade.
The MMRCA 2.0 is a tender for medium/ light fighter aircraft, not heavy aircraft. Moreover, the Indian Airforce has never operated American fighters, thus operating F-15 EX would be a logistical nightmare. The f15’s airframe is 50 years old design which is irrelevant in the modern scenario.
Boeing’s own F/A 18 super hornet block III makes more sense than F 15 EX. It has some parts-commonality with other Indian platforms such as the GE f414 engine which would be used in Tejas MK 2 and other upcoming fighters. Thus choosing f 18 would ensure easier logistics and reduced maintenance costs. F 18 also has the potential to fulfil the immediate Navy’s requirement for carrier-capable multirole fighters.
Rafale and F/A 18 super hornet are the two strongest competitors in the MMRCA 2.0 and thus there are almost negligible chances that IAF would procure The Boeing F-15 EX.