In the United States, they called the F-15EX ‘a giant mistake of the USAF’

Despite the promising future of the F-15EX platform touted in numerous reviews, not everyone is convinced of its potential. In fact, two years ago The National Interest published an article titled ‘The U.S. Air Force’s biggest mistake ever?’ which delved into the potential misgivings about the F-15EX. This commentary by Mark Episkopos given two years ago has been supported by recent criticism from Maya Carlin, who has added another layer of skepticism with her article ‘F-15EX: A giant mistake for the Air Force?’ 

F-15EX 'missile truck' can shoot down 6 fighters in one flight
Photo credit: USAF has reminded readers that the decision by the US to purchase 140 Boeing F-15EX Eagle II fighters was made last year, in 2021. According to Episkopos, this monumental order might be seen as one of the more misguided acquisitions by the USAF in recent history – essentially, a hefty investment in an increasingly outmoded form of warfare.

In 2021, the principal critique seems to be the absence of stealth technology in the F-15EX. Episkopos highlights that this model is grounded in the F-15 technology, which has been around for 45 years. Despite its age, the design has seen advancements, notably enhanced radar, updated avionics, and a modernized cockpit display.

Nevertheless, a standout perk of the F-15EX is its superior armament. This feature underscores the F-15EX’s lethal prowess in aerial combat.

Unquestionably, the F-15EX comes with a remarkable armament system. Armed with its new Advanced Missile and Bomb Ejection System [AMBER], this fighter jet can transport as many as twenty-two airborne air-to-air missiles. This amplifies its status as a formidable machine in the skies.

Episkopos stresses that the F-15EX is devoid of the vital stealth attributes required to function proficiently in present-day air warfare. In uncomplicated terms, when confronted with the modern surface-to-air and air-to-air weaponry of superpowers like Russia and China, the F-15EX stands no chance.

Considering the ongoing worldwide rollout of Russia’s potent S-400 missile system, and its recently unveiled successor, the S-500, it’s projected that F-15EX squadrons will find navigating through disputed airspace increasingly risky. Episkopos bluntly puts it, “The number of missiles the F-15EX can carry is irrelevant if it’s taken down before it gets a chance to deploy them.”

Sukhoi failure in Asia - to be replaced by two dozen F-15EXs
Photo by Samuel King Jr.

Fast forward two years and criticisms of the F-15EX persist. However, these objections are now focused less on the aircraft’s capabilities or lack thereof, and more on its financial worth. Surprisingly, the F-15EX has become the priciest aircraft currently on the market—making the F-35 Lightning II look like a bargain in comparison.

Maya Carlin noted in her commentary, “Based on the Air Force’s most recent annual report on selected acquisitions, each Eagle II fighter comes with an astounding price tag of $93.95 million.”

Nevertheless, dismissing the F-15 as nothing more than a pricey platform may not be fair. Experts vouch for the F-15EX’s capabilities, urging us not to underestimate this remarkable combat machine.

The most recent model of the American F-15 Eagle fighter jet has broken significant records in the arena of load capacity and firepower. In a truly exceptional feat, the yearly tests in January saw the fighter jet carrying and launching up to 12 air-to-air missiles. This triumph broke previous records in which a maximum of six to eight missiles were carried.

When it comes to tonnage, the F-15EX can lug up to 13.6 rounds of ammunition, a significantly higher capacity than previously recorded amounts.

The Eagle II reached another seminal moment in September. The 53rd Wing announced that the fighter successfully finished the first phase of its initial operational test and review program when it launched an AGM-158 air-to-surface missile.

To conclude, the F-15EX has numerous accomplishments to its name and isn’t shy about standing up to naysayers, asserting its standing as a top-tier fighter. However, the question that remains is – do its achievements justify its hefty price tag?

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