I’m confused. Is it 8 aircraft or 2 aircraft or indefinite quantity?


I know we’ve had some discussion about the merits of this program… I am glad to see something is in the works for less expensive fighter aircraft.

…and I do love my F-15!

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8 new variants of indefinite quantity at this time. Likely to replace old F-15A/B/C airframes and a number of F-16s in Guard use, possibly some to replace original projected F-22 numbers.

Thanks for that clarification. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive fan of the Eagle. I know that it’s apples to oranges, but the per unit cost being the same as the F-35 sounds outrageous, especially with 70% part commonality with the current fleet. The fact that it’s Boeing smells a bit of 737 Max. Almost sounds arbitrary pricing to my tiny brain’s point of view.

In part because of the quantity being ordered and because these may as well be gutted F-15s with modern electronics. The F-35’s cost will go up if the quantity gets slashed, which is looking more and more likely as time goes on, to say nothing of operational costs. It might be a Boeing contract, but these are being built at the plant in St. Louis, which historically was the McDonnell-Douglas factory.

If you go by price per aircraft alone, then Qatar just bought 36 F-15QAs at a whopping $333 million per aircraft, which I’m sure isn’t the actual price per aircraft.

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My interpretation was wanting to buy a quantity of eight of the new variants, not develop eight different variants of the airframe. However, Congress only said yes to two until the Air Force reported back on it. Basically the conversation goes like this:

Little Johnny Air Force: Mummy, Mummy, I want eight shiny new planes.
Mummy Congress: We already have shiny new F-35s.
Little Johnny Air Force: But I want F-15s now!
Mummy Congress: We only have money for two.
Little Johnny Air Force: But I want eight!
Mummy Congress: Sigh Fine, we’ll get two now, and if you show that you’re a good boy and really want them, maybe we can get the other six.
Little Johnny Air Force: Stomps feet But I want them ALL now! Right now! Starts to pout
Mummy Congress: You’ll be happy with two now or you’ll go to bed without any F-35 supper!
Little Johnny Air Force: Fine! Crosses arms and sulks off


It is always a fallacy to take total program cost, or even annual monies budgeted, and divide by planes procured.
To the public, we are only given total units and total cost, but the actual contracts have a lot of other stuff in there including spares, support, upgrades, etc.

I remember 20 years back seeing numbers as high as $500 million per F-22, because they were taking the total cost-for the entire program-and dividing by 180 planes. Yet due to a fluke, where an F-22 was lost during the production run and an attrition replacement was ordered, we got to see that the very last F-22 cost $141m by itself. It was an addon to the existing budget so all the other stuff usually lumped in had been covered by the main budget.

Had they built more at a higher rate that would’ve been cheaper, of course, and the first F-35s cost over $150m when the production rate was very low and rework rates were very high.


they are Getting new 15s for the same reason the USN is getting Block III SuperHornets.


I can’t find the article I read but its said a total of 144 jets. Basically to replace the 15c.

This first year of the program, the Air Force plans to buy eight F-15EX fighters, although future plans call for as many as 144 aircraft. Congress approved only two F-15EXs in the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, with the proviso that USAF can buy the other six after submitting a report on its acquisition strategy for the program. The eight aircraft, including initial engineering, hardware and software design, integration of subsytems and parts production, would run about $1.1 billion the first year.

expect that might change

The F-15EX purchase was an initiative of the Pentagon’s Cost Analysis and Program Evaluation shop, which said the Air Force could more rapidly refresh its fighter fleet by purchasing new examples of the F-15, even as it buys the stealthy F-35

The Air Force Wants to Buy More F-15X Jets, and It’s a Huge Mistake (Feb 2019)


The F-35 and F-15 do not serve the same missions, despite overlap. This was an inevitable consequence of the F-22 early program termination.

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Yup, this is pretty much what the deal is. The F-22 got the axe before they got anywhere near the numbers they predicted they’d have, then the F-35 turned out way overdue and they’re not getting them at the rate they’d hoped by now. That leaves shortfalls as your existing assets are worn completely out and you can’t keep up with operational demands. See Canada’s current situation with their legacy Bugs, which Australia avoided by picking up some Super Bugs as an interim solution. The USAF, both due to their own stubbornness and budget realities, wouldn’t consider some stopgap F-16s and F-15s to shift some of the burden until the new aircraft were ready to take up the slack. The new F-15s are a case of facing reality, which is a tough pill to swallow.

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Of course there is no world where the F-35A was going to replace the F-15C. I can imagine some F-15E missions going to them if range/payload matrices work out, but as soon as the F-22 was canceled the whole “Golden Eagle” idea was implemented instead.

While that certainly made the Cs more capable, it didn’t make them younger. It’s now been almost 20 years, the newest C models are what, 35 years old? Most of the fleet older?
Bombers and tankers, transports and sigint…sure. Dogfighting, interception, air superiority? Not so much.

There was probably some idea after the F-22 was canned that by 2020 the F-22’s replacement would be in the works and the gap small but manageable. Surprise! I suppose you could load a bunch of missiles on an F-35A and with good tanker support perform some of that mission, like the F-16C has, but it’s neither an interceptor nor air superiority fighter. It’s a next-gen F-117 that can carry AAMs. In fact, the old description of what the F-19 was supposed to be is pretty much what the F-35A is, barring it looking cooler. Anyone else look at the F-22 and F-35 and be reminded of the F-8 and A-7 like I am?

Of course, when the F-22 was canned the decade-plus of Middle East ops wasn’t considered, either. It hasn’t directly affected the usage of the 15C and F-22, but indirectly in diverting a lot of resources for the other platforms.


F-22 is essentially amn overpriced and under produced stealth eagle… lmao


Jedi, people are making the comparison because some think funds are being diverted from the F-35A to buy these F-15EXs…although not sure why I should care because if you guys want to buy these revolutionary breathed on F-15SAs at special cut price it is only yourselves you are shooting in the foot.

F-35A is probably more F-16XL in that it had a higher emphasis on A-G but still required a very good A-A capability especially for those nations operating it as their only fighter as they did with F-16s.

Change is already taking place in many mission sets. The end of F-22 production meant the F-35 is now being adapted to perform air superiority missions, and this involves improving weapons and sensors.

Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A Welsh III has said on numerous occasions the shortage of F-22s means the Air Force will rely on the F-35 to achieve air superiority in future conflicts much more than originally planned. Even though the F-35 was to be a multirole jet and not a dedicated fighter Anhalt said it will be superior to the F-15 in the Air to Air regime.

Air Force Magazine March 2016

The F-15 might have been considered an Air Superiority fighter in the old 4 Gen world…the question would be, is it in a 5th Gen world?.. and the answer seems to be no.
5 Gen is about control of information and denying that to the enemy and thus tries to implement arguably the most important things that have always been part of A-A from day one (Boyd would have approved)

The F-15X is an updated version of the F-15E, and six active duty pilots I have interviewed who have flown both that jet and the F-35 state the former could never survive in a modern day, high-threat environment, and that it would be soundly defeated by an F-35 in almost any type of air-to-air engagement.

“If we had the money, those would be 72 F-35s. But we’ve gotta look at this from a cost/business case.” he explained. “An F-15 will never be an F-35. Never. But I need capacity.”

But logic, and I use that term optimistically, would seem to dictate that an F-15EX would be more of a less stealthy missile truck using integrated sensor data from more capable platforms. I suppose the fallacy of that scenario is that the mission package as a whole would be as detectable as its weakest link.

Perhaps what we are seeing is the Air Force’s struggle to maintain its capability. What are wings, squadrons, pilots, and maintainers without aircraft to fly?

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This ^^^



Various Air Forces around the world state they are getting 4 and 5 gen aircraft working together to see how the 4 Gens can benefit. The missile truck concept might be technically feasible but as you say workable in reality is another thing.

Ha the USAF seem to have been making out they are also short of pilots as well for the past few years. It is certainly better for the pilots to not have to fly those ancient F-15Cs and get replacements for those in a sense.

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When the F-22 was canceled, part of the given rationale was “it will free up money to work on the F-35”. So in a sense we didn’t get as many F-22s as we needed, in order to get the F-35 done sooner. Now the F15 is cheaper than the 22 was, but if it’s going to be close to the 35 in price, it says more about splitting the work between Boeing and LockMart than about what the combat commanders actually need. Boeing hasn’t won a fighter competition in 30 years, and if we want more than an LM monopoly on designing them it makes sense to do so.

Also, at the time bomb trucks were en vogue as the B-1B was converted to fly CAS (!?!) and loitering and dropping on heads on the desert was all that was of interest. A stealthy interceptor was a Cold War relic with little current-day value as China was still way behind and Russian relations were warm.

With the AIM-120, it doesn’t really matter who’s carrying it. If the carrier isn’t seen, it’s arguably more effective than if it is, so an F-35A attack with 120s is going to have a higher PK than an F-15 would. Once you get to WVR with the AIM-9, then it matters more, but nowadays getting to WVR is considered a failure to begin with, whether due to over restrictive ROE or degradation of the combat environment or whatever.

We still have no hard numbers on whether an F-22 or an F-15 or an F-35 or an F-16 is more survivable against an R-73 or R-27T or even an R-60. Agility counts for something, but the R73 is almost immune to that. Flares can be carried by any plane, there’s no reason it couldn’t be equally used by all, and all of them have big hot engines, no F-117-style exhausts here. So absent active jamming via laser or something there’s no advantage to being in one or the other if a Flanker fires an Archer at 1.5km.

I think Clancy’s use of mixed F-15/22 flights in Debt of Honor is still the best use of them. Divert attention with the Eagle assault while the 22’s flank and hit them from a direction they’re not looking. If they turn to engage the 22’s once noticed, the Eagles get them. If they press on, the 22’s do. Repeat with 35s and 16s/18s if you wish.