The range reduces the need for tanker support, the volume of weapons is quite a bit higher than Shornets and the production line is hot And churning out airframes as we speak. For the life of me I cannot understand why the USAF would cancel or reduce the order…that is a head scratcher when they go on an on about pacific distances and the age of the F15 fleets.
The USAF makes a big more sense, they are replacing older F-15's with newer F-15s, maintenance, support, training etc can all remain the same. Clearly the F-22 isn't replacing them and in fact the F-15 may replace some of the F-22's. But replacing old clapped out F-15's with new build F-15s is very simple and easy and allows the air force to remain the same size, be ready to fly hours and take some load off the F-35 production lines and spares.
The USAF is removing the conformal fuel tanks. They don't need the additional range. USAF doesn't think like RAAF or other air forces.
Some F-15E Strike Eagles have ditched their conformal fuel tanks as they take on more air-to-air missions in the absence of the F-15C.
Which is also probably why the USN wasn't really interested in the conformal tanks on their Block III planes. They have other capabilities.
Block III Super hornet would be a significant upgrade. As @Takao
points out ques for whole new platforms are quite long. But we could upgrade the Super hornets to Block III (or at least the cockpit) and the F-35 to TR3/Blk4. Acquire new weapons. Acquire more weapons. LRASM onto P8.F-35. JSM could be another one we look at with internal carriage in the F35, resulting in a clean long range profile..
I like the superhornets. We have growler capability, no one else even really plays in that space. We are lock step with the USN which is more relevant for Australia. It was an easy and quick transition from the Hornet. Its is a cheap and easy aircraft to work on and fly. The USN is going to fly it for decades and is still taking deliveries willingly. The BlkIII cockpit and networks and stealth improvements would make it a very useful aircraft going into the future. It is still one of the most stealthiest 4.5 gen aircraft.
Quad mount A2A missiles on each pylon. Enhanced fully integrated EW capabilities.
I dunno.. Super Hornet can carry more missiles than the F-15EX (12 vs 14 - AFAIK) and if we are talking about EW, fairly sure the growler is pretty strong in that area. I don't see it as a poor mans cousin to the F-15EX, just different. The F-15EX just reminds everyone that the Superhornets should probably go through a blkIII upgrade (atleast cockpit, networking, stealth improvements, IRST thingy, and those conformal tanks make it look thic!).
I don't see a picture like this and see the Super hornets key weakness is its lack of missile carriage. What the hell are we going up against? The aliens from Independence day?