“The F-15EX is the most affordable and immediate way to refresh the capacity and update the capabilities provided by our aging F-15C/D fleets. The F-15EX is ready to fight as soon as it comes off the line.” -Gen (ret.) Mike Holmes, former commander, Air Combat Command (July 2020)
The F-15EX is designed to protect the homeland. It is equipped with three complimentary weapons systems that work together to maximize the F-15 EX’s effectiveness. It has a huge carrying capacity of 22 air-to-air missiles which includes: shorter-range air-to-air AIM-9X Sidewinder that uses infrared to engage with a target; up to 12 AMRAAM missiles which give the EX the ability to detect, target, and engage enemy aircraft at greater distances; and, the Stormbreaker smart weapon that can strike a target at up to 45 miles away regardless of adverse weather conditions. Included in this as a proven capability to defeat drone and missile threats. Additionally, in strike role, the “Eagle II” carries the full inventory of current air to ground weapons, and has the capability to carry future hypersonic weapons. These many weapons systems make the F-15EX a powerful multirole strike fighter and a significant upgrade to the current F-15s and F-16s used by our armed forces and allies.
Nicknamed “Eagle II”, the F-15 EX has the capability to carry hypersonic weapons and proven capability to defeat drone and missile threats. The planned U.S. rollout of 144 F-15EXs will help replace approximately 250 aging F-15 C/D airframes that are being phased out of the Air Force’s inventory in its plan to have 4 platforms of the Air Force’s inventory as part of a deliberate plan over the coming decade to consolidate the USAF fighter force to four platforms: the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) sixth-generation fighter, the fifth-generation F-35, the 4.5-generation F-15EX, and an upgraded low-cost fourth-generation platform yet to be named.
In August of this year, an American F-15E used a Sidewinder to shoot down a drone in Syria, and Saudi F-15s have shot down multiple Houthi and Iranian drones. These airborne systems based on the proven F-15 platform are currently used by the U.S. Air Force and its allies including Israel, Singapore, South Korea, Qatar, Japan, and Saudi Arabia.
The mission of Air-based homeland cruise missile defense is a primary mission of the Air National Guard (ANG). The day after the 9/11 attacks, Operation Noble Eagle began: a continuous operation to protect the U.S. homeland and critical infrastructure. To this day, NORAD has been running Noble Eagle primarily with F-15s and F-16s under the First Air Force (known as Air Forces Northern) which oversees 10 Air National Guard wings. A year ago, ANG units on the East Coast conducted Exercise Guardian Shield. This was the Department of Defense’s largest cruise missile defense exercise ever.
Speed, maneuverability, lethality, and systems integration remain critical to our Missile Defense weapons systems. The F-15 EX in combination with a modern air battle management system, such as the Wedgetail, will provide a dominant air defense capability that is rapid and agile, reducing risk while our fixed site cruise missile defense systems develop. Yet the F-15EX is capable of far more than homeland defense. As a replacement for the F-15Cs which will eventually retire out of Okinawa, Japan, the F-15EX will serve as a “forward screen” of air superiority, ensuring cruise missile launch platforms such as adversary bombers never make it to their launch areas to attack Guam and other key US facilities in the Indo-Pacific. Even if missiles get launched from land or sea-based platforms, the EX will still be able to run down those missiles and destroy them with it’s large defensive missile capacity.
The capacity of the F-15EX to carry large, long-range offensive weapons will add to the “knockout punch” required to deter potential adversary attack. Integrated Missile Defense and the Air Superiority that is achieved with our technologically superior Fighter aircraft will strengthen effective Strategic Deterrence globally.