The United States Air Force is set to add upgraded F-15s to its air wings, even as it purchases large numbers of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. According to reports, the five-year buying plan calls for purchasing eighty of the F-15X planes.
The new version of the F-15, an aircraft that was first developed in 1976, has been renamed the F-15X and comes with some very important upgrades. Most of the updates it has are already flying in F-15s produced for other countries, with research and development already paid for by nations such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. These include strengthened airframes for increased maneuverability and integrity, giving the advanced fighter an even greater dog- fighting capability over the original F-15 and an impressive airframe lifespan of 20,000 hours.
With all the hype over F-35 and its unique technologies, from advanced stealth to diverse weapons system integration, one may ask why the U.S. military is investing in yet another fighter jet.
What’s understood is that while F-35 is certainly the fighter of the future, it was not designed to excel at the one thing most people would naturally associate fighter planes with: winning dog fights. On the other hand, from its inception the F-15 was meant to be an “air superiority fighter,” an aircraft designed for entering and seizing control of enemy airspace. Although they may be capable of secondary roles as well, such as air-to-ground strikes or reconnaissance, they are primarily meant for effectively engaging enemy fighters.
The evolved F-15, dubbed by some experts as “the strike eagle on steroids,” is meant to fill that operational need.