Boeing has a plan and a vision to upgrade the F-15 Eagle that will keep it lethal and operating for the next two decades.
Time waits for no man nor for any aircraft. That’s true even for the F-15 Eagle, whose track record as a fighter is stellar. Clocks tick and calendars flip and there are always defense contractors trying to re-invent the wheel.
Boeing though is looking to the future with the F-15C and recently unveiled an “up-gunned” version of the Eagle which is designed to make it lethal and operational at least through 2040 – and that’s the reason for the “2040C” designation for the new version of the Eagle.
In the accompanying promotional video, the modernized F-15 has the appearance of something Bruce Wayne would climb into after turning into Batman.
But this is no CGI fantasy. The 2040C features:
- “Quad pack” munitions racks that will double the air-to-air missing payload to 16.
- Conformal fuel tanks for extended range.
- A communications system that will link the Eagle to Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor.
- Improved survivability with the latest radar and infrared tracking sensors that give the 2040C “first sight, first shot, first kill” air-to-air combat capabilities.
With the Pentagon capping F-22 production at 187 aircraft, the need for improved F-15C has increased. Boeing envisions that there will be demand for 200 of improved Eagle versions. The upgrades would be part of a service-life-extension program (SLEP).
Boeing’s upgrade plan is crucial. With F-22 production ended and the F-35 struggling, the possibility of a “fighter gap” increases. The 2040C program for the F-15C would not only ensure that gap doesn’t grow but it would link the Eagle and the Raptor as aerial teammates.