Introducing the F-15X: Would the Air Force Buy a Non 'Stealth' Fighter?

I really hope and pray this actually happens…what a beast that would be.

Imagining f22 raptors out in front designating targets and these monsters carrying armfuls of long range missiles in the rear.
I know they toyed with the similar idea for the b52 and b1 but this looks more likely to happen. Love the concept


LOL - cant really see it personally however it might be the one thing of even worse value than an RTX card :wink:

The only thing getting it up the rear with this concept and deal will be the US taxpayer.

I’m no expert on these things but if the f15c/d fleet needs replacement would this not be a cost effective and EFFECTIVE alternative to the stealth aircraft?
Maybe someone with more knowledge than me could explain it to me as to the layman it looks like a great way to get tons more missiles in the air and without spending 170m dollars per aircraft

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To me it seems like great deal too. But why only so few? Don’t they need like 200?

And why haven’t they bought three squadrons of A-X yet?

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I’m glad you mentioned that I was wondering the same. I know they carry more and the force multiplication effects of fewer aircraft carrying more but the numbers don’t add up to me…

Current F-35A unit cost is under $90m - it has economies of scale on its side so is cheaper to buy and very likely operate over a tiny number of current production F-15s and more importantly far more capable.

Boeing would have to probably take a massive loss on selling these if they tried to make the unit cost cheaper at least. But what are you left with? a second tier fighter that has to play some ludicrous concept of missile truck to the real fighters (F-35/22) while at the same time being a massive target and liability.

The only plausible reason or the one being pushed is the total lack of investment in the USAF fleet over the years meaning they cant produce enough F-35s yet to replace everything.

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Surely though the f15 cannot be ‘that’ much less capable than an f22. If an f22/35 is designating targets it makes more sense to have enough missiles in the air to keep them in the fight longer with their low airframe numbers.
If an aim 120 is launched does it matter where from? I really like the idea of this.
A bomb truck that can hold its own against ANY other fighter in the world except maybe 5. Of which allies use 3 and Russia has 2.
Can you imagine a fleet of 3rd or 4th gen fighters against 6 of these carrying 20 amraams each and 2 f22 at the front as a controller aircraft? It would be a bloody massacre.

As much as I love the Eagle, and despise the military industrial welfare complex that led to the F-35 debacle, the F-35 is a significantly more capable platform. If we’re going to simply be loading missiles onto something convenient than why waste the money on capability the AC doesn’t need? This missile truck idea would honestly be served better by figuring out how to launch AAM’s from extended long ranges (something like the AIM-54’s max range) and then chucking them out of the back of a C-5 or something.

If we’re going to dump money into a legacy program that is going to have astronomical costs, let’s do it right and put it into the F-22 program.


I’m not arguing that the f35/22 are superior platforms. What I’m saying is if you put 5 15x in the air and 1 f35 or 22 you have enough firepower to level any air power in the world.
That’s over 100 missiles. You could fire 5 at each ship in a 4 ship attack formation and still have enough missiles on racks to nail every military aircraft in a small country.

I realise I sound quite aggressive in these posts and it is not my intention at all so apologies if I’m coming across that way. :blush:

I would stretch to say the now in service J-20 is probably better than anything Russia currently has.

Difficult to say if anyone has ever taken this concept seriously (outside of a Boeing Sales Rep) - many year ago there was a RAND report on battle with China flying around the Internet and as soon as the F-15X appears every amateur blogger declares nostalgia day (or is that Afterburner by SEGA day?)

Doesn’t appear as good as it might seem and hope the USAF get to decide and not have these pushed on them by government.

That figure is dependent upon buying the quantity of F-35s that the USAF wants. Halve the number that they want for a more realistic estimate as to the number they’ll get, then change the per-aircraft cost accordingly. Add in logistical and flight hour costs as well, which is what tends to really make aircraft expensive. Remember, they thought they’d end up with 750 F-22s at one point… Which got reduced to 187. To be fair, that’s partly why they’re having problems with the F-15s now, but anybody who thought they’d get the number they wanted originally was fooling themselves. History has well established this trend in the past.

This proposal is primarily for the Air Guard and their primary mission of homeland defense. The argument is that they have a lesser need for an airframe like the F-35 in the performance of their mission, of which I’m inclined to agree. Coupled with better endurance, a second crewmember, and less finicky logistics and maintenance requirements (as well as a greatly reduced flight hour cost), it seems to be a good deal on the face of it. The USAF would do well to keep the option open at the very least, though my take is that other parts of their fleet are in dire need of attention more than the F-15s are.

If this goes through and the USAF is forced to accept them, you can probably count on them getting used constantly. Loiter time, load capacity, and the second crewmember make a marked difference for most of the fighting we’re currently involved in and are likely to be involved in the future.

The USAF has never wanted those, just the same as they never wanted the A-10. The OA-X was originally going to be a couple hundred airframes which has now been narrowed down to less than 20, if they even buy them at all. The A-29 was looking to be the winner after this past summer’s fly-off between the A-29 and AT-6. They were supposed to have made a decision on that by now, but I haven’t heard much since this past summer.

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Doesn’t seem to be any change at the moment so unit cost procurement for the A should continue towards $80m for now.

I am aware they are for Homeland defence but that doesn’t really change much - still very poor value for a second tier asset - the world has changed.

Wasn’t aware single or 2 seat had been decided upon - better endurance (??) the word is no and most definitely not in some cases and don’t think it can have a lower CPFH but would have to see but thought it was already much lower than the F-15E.

Just looking for a quote from the USAF on this:

Indeed, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson in September stated that the Air Force had no interest in picking up the fourth-generation F-15X, preferring instead to invest in expanding its fleet of fifth-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

“We are currently 80 percent fourth-gen aircraft and 20 percent fifth-generation aircraft,” Wilson told Defense News in a Sept. 5 interview. “In any of the fights that we have been asked to plan for, more fifth gen aircraft make a huge difference, and we think that getting to 50-50 means not buying new fourth-gen aircraft, it means continuing to increase the fifth generation.”

2037 is a ways out. Do you think the next several congresses and administrations are going to follow the same lines as they have in the past 20 years? Once again, 20 years ago, they thought they were getting some ~400 F-22s. At present time, they have ~350 F-35s. Now, I don’t know the current production rate as I don’t care for the F-35 boondoggle myself, but a casual browsing suggests that they won’t reach the desired production number for several more years at least. What happens when the purse strings are tightened and congress says “no”? Once again, it’s happened before and it is foolhardy to believe it won’t happen again.

I’d guess it would be a mix of single and dual seaters, if not reconfigurable on the fly. And yes, the F-15 would have better endurance than the F-35; there’s no contest on that. Perhaps if the F-35 gets external tanks, then it might be able to compete. The most recent figures I have for the F-35’s flight hour cost hovers between $30,000-50,000, depending on source. Boeing’s figure for this proposal is $27,000 per flight hour cost on the F-15X, though one I consider dubious but it’s no more or less than Lockheed’s figures for the F-35. It’s not cheap business any way you slice it, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that a complex and capable aircraft like the F-35 is going to be cheaper to operate than a less complex and simpler one.

The problem is she doesn’t really get an absolute say in that. She can indicate the USAF doesn’t want the aircraft and their vision is a pure F-35 force, but Congress has the power to force them to accept the F-15X. They’ve done the same with the A-10 more than once, as well as other missions and platforms. Throw in what the USAF has done previously like canning the badly-needed C-27 and Congress just might turn the USAF’s senior leadership into finely shredded chicken.

As an example: a few years ago, the Army decided that it couldn’t afford to keep the OH-58s around, as well as the overall cost of their helicopter fleet in a mixed active-Guard-Reserve format. Therefore, they told Congress that if the active force took all the AH-64s, the Guard and Reserve switch to pure UH-60s, then ditched the OH-58, they would save money and be better in the long run. The problem was they lied about the numbers and they did not, in fact, save money. End result was the Guard and Reserves got themselves some fresh funding, kept their AH-64s, and the active force got effed right in the butt. The US Congress tends to be a vengeful bunch.

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According to one of the bloggers it was going in the budget request over the next few years so probably not going to see any change in F-35A unit cost in that time I’m afraid.

Well there is a contest on that certainly an ex F-15E pilot is on video claiming the F-35A has better endurance but I don’t have the F-35 dash 1 to claim otherwise. I’m afraid that the F-15X cannot carry all of its drop tanks in every situation - for example where it needs to say carry computer game A-A missile loadouts. So bye bye any perceived range advantage on top of everything else. Of course endurance / range is also mission specific not just a simple paper figure or simply how much fuel an aircraft can carry!

I will find some figures for cost.

Yes that is why I stated above unless the USAF are forced to by government / congress. But if the USAF doesn’t want them and they are the only ones in a position to know what is best in reality then my point still stands - the F-15X is a sh*te deal end of.

There’s also kinematic performance. Our computer game teaches us that an AMRAAM fired at mach 0.95 has about half the range of one fired at mach 1.8.

A panther can do a lot, but to whack a flanker, it needs to get closer to it than an eagle would. That sounds dangerous, because the merge has become a mugs game, everybody loses.

Pure air to air, I’d actually take brilliant kinematics over stealth. Putin agrees, as does Xi. Both their new machines compromise on all aspect stealth in order to be fast and able to change direction fast. F-22 is quite fast too, and does it way high as well. They should have built 350 of em, but in lieu of that, super eagles will do.

I like the F-15X. I think it’s a good idea. But they need a bunch of 'em. Just one squad won’t do.


Sure, budget requests are great and all, then stuff like sequestration comes up and blows all the requests straight to hell. The current admin is also directing the DOD budget to get cut, which may or may not have an impact depending on what Congress does. There’s more than a few – me included – who believe the DOD budget has far too much wastage. I’ve seen a lot of it and still hear about a lot of it; that means that a lot of folks know about it and are more than likely to agree with a budget cut measure. If the USAF wants to get persnickety about it, then Congress will have no problem leading them around by the nose – they’ve done it before.

If he’s got access to info that we don’t, then sure. I can’t discount the possibility, but at the same time we’re not exactly talking about F-15Es here. The new proposal is GE F110 engines, fly-by-wire, etc. which could make a significant difference in endurance. So clean, with 6 missiles on each aircraft give the edge to the F-35, it might not when you make it 3 bags and 8 missiles. Goes double when the mission capable rate of F-35s is presently abysmal, of which the older F-15E beats by a pretty significant percentage. An F-15 in the air is better than an F-35 sitting on the tarmac waiting for parts or a bugged ALIS.

The problem is the USAF doesn’t have a good track record in knowing what’s best. If they did, then Congress probably wouldn’t even be entertaining this F-15X and it’d not have the weight behind it that it seems to. The A-10, the F-16 (remember, they didn’t want it either), the C-27, etc. are all examples of the USAF saying “we know best” and being wrong. They suppressed documentaries on the A-10 made by their own branch, threatened to reprimand anyone who voiced support for the A-10, and then claimed the C-130 could do the job of the C-27, then refused to perform the mission. That’s not a good track record for trust and that’s why they’re getting the current treatment.

The USAF are the only ones placed to know what is best in reality - they see a million things no one else does. They are not always going to get it right - no one is - however being dictated too by people who seem to know even less is not the way to go. This is the musings of amateur bloggers through and through - trying to make out themselves and ex pilots who know nothing about the changes in modern tech are the people who should be listened too above all - it is ridiculous.

GE-129s have a similar static thrust rating to PW-229s in the late Es so expect to see a higher fuel consumption at the same throttle setting, drag index, weight, speed and altitude.

Is the airframe significantly lighter no one can say so mute point.

The F-35A is not a mature platform - I don’t know how that figure is calculated but you should expect MCR rise year by year.

Sadly this has very little to do with how F-22/35 clear the skies of pretty much everything without breaking a sweat or why the F-15 cannot compete on the same field.

Are you putting all eggs in the awesome sensor fusion/datalinks and stealth basket?

But what if… What if russians figure out how to do high speed datalinks as well, use that to do multistatic radar from their flankers and PAK-FA? What if some Chinese whizzkid hacks the datalinks, putting it full of bogus info while also reading perfect location data on those (relatively) slow panthers?

Sure in red flag panthers and raptors wipe the floor with eagles, eurofighters, rafales, anything thrown their way. It’s a perfect-use scenario. It’s not realistic. RedFor is not fighting for the lives of their 3 year old daughters.

I do think you are right on your point of us internet people, bloggers, armchair generals and congresspeople knowing less of the Game than some people in the air force do. It would be crazy if they didn’t.
It’s just too bad that the Air Force as an organisation doesn’t seem capable of forming a coherent, sensible policy. The A-10, C-27 and F-16 stories bear that out quite clearly. (heck that goes for the US gov’t in general, don’t it?)


No, sorry, I don’t buy that the USAF are the only ones who know what is best in reality. In addition to my above examples, there’s a more recent example of the USAF suddenly finding out that $53 million worth of missile motors weren’t, in fact, unserviceable. Said audit was part of a DOD-wide audit, which likely wouldn’t have happened if we took the DOD at its word – to include the USAF.

Further, the DOD as a whole has always been and always will be dictated by those who know even less. That’s what Congress does. It is up to the members of Congress to judge whether or not the USAF is presenting a truthful, factual opinion, with data to back it up, or if they’re once again blowing smoke as they have in the past. Ergo, the USAF has had a tendency to lie about certain things which causes mistrust from Congress… Which can be bad, especially if they decide a random think-tank has a better perspective than the USAF does.

Does this account for the GE engined F-15s retaining their turkey feathers?

Most of the aircraft have generally abysmal readiness rates, not just the F-35 alone. Most of the stealth aircraft are the worst, with the drones being the best. In terms of fighter aircraft alone, the F-15E is the current best given available data. The F-35 will have an uphill battle of about 25% to match that, which means their readiness rate will have to stop dropping as it has in the past couple of years.

A statement which currently remains unproven and likely will for the foreseeable future, if we’re lucky. I will consider it money well spent if it keeps conflict at bay, but my current perspective leads me to believe that conflict won’t be determined by the presence or absence of military aircraft.