ROCK45, I agree with your analysis that Boeing trying to grab or hold onto as much of the fighter market and the F-15 fighter upgrade market, keeping in mind that the Saudi air force placed 2 orders (in Sept 2008 & Oct 2007) that exceeds $750 million
to re-engine their F-15S, just to give an indicative idea of how valuable the F-15 upgrade market can be.
I'm school boy excited about the the new "Silent Eagle" version which include internal bays within the existing conformal fuel tanks. There is also another write up and video by Flight Global on the 'Silent Eagle' here
Conforma fuel tanks can be typically removed within an hour or two, so the idea of internal bays within conformal fuel tanks is a great idea for radar signature reduction. However, the current proposed design seems to provide for 4 missiles
or alternate bomb carriage. This is a very small 'silent' combat load. In fact, I think they should consider sacrificing more fuel carriage to see if they can put in more.
A relatively cheap upgrade, plus a low risk, low developmental cost idea, for a big potential market segment.
IMHO, the decision not to incorporate more advanced technology into the F-15 platform earlier had always been driven by political and other considerations (not allowing it to take away from F-35 sales). Boeing always had the ability to further upgrade the F-15 platform. However, there was just no funding for it, as USAF development monies were allocated to the F-22 and F-35 programs.
Basically, RCS reduction measures in aircraft will force an upgrade in air defence radars worldwide and push air forces without AWACS towards acquiring them sooner.
Agree it will not be a substitute for F-22, but with this modification..the existing F-15 fleet seems can continue as supplementary for F-22..
Could it be this a cue that the production line of F-22 will be limited on current 200'ish plan..and no more..??
I think Boeing is making a very smart move, as it would help the company generate more sales for an existing platform (to bring jobs almost immediately) as opposed to future jobs to be provided for the F-35 program (which happens to be LM, it's competitor).
In the case of Singapore, if we acquire more F-15SGs beyond the current 24, it would mean that the 'Silent Eagle' may compete against F-35 sales to Singapore. Let me explain. We intend to replace our two current F-5 squadrons. IMHO, one of the F-5 squadrons will be replaced by the F-35. The question, that RSAF will need to ask itself is whether we are going to buy more F-15s OR F-35s for the other F-5 squadron.
For non-US, western orientated operators, the F-15 fleet will supplement the F-35. Keep in mind that many F-15 operators are flying a variant of the F-15E Strike Eagle, which often plays a strike role.
With current economic conditions in US and continue defence cuts plan..while in the same time maintaining the number of existing fleet does seems essentials...modifying or producing modified F-15 is a smart way...
Currently, the USAF plans to operate the F-15 up to 2035 and I certain that other operators intend to keep theirs in service for a even longer time frame. So there is money to be made to sell upgrades to non-US F-15 operators, who also happen to be countries with deep pockets.
Afterall if PAK-FA do come out..it will also be in very limited numbers..and this F-15 still can do well against SU 27/30/35 MKM, Eurofighter, and Rafale..righht ??
Keep in mind, for the F-15 to be in service beyond 2035, it must be able to continue to do well against other fighters. In this respect, the engines available (and being developed) for the F-15 platform must have more power and cost less to maintain. Currently the F-15SGs are powered by the F110-GE-129C, which is also the same model as the Saudi re-engine choice.