USAF Considers F-15 Retirement

Looks like the Air Force is considering retiring the Eagle (not the Mudhen) as a cost-saving measure, Modified F-16s would take over the interception role. If by “modified”, they mean “updating it to the Echo version with conformal spine tanks”, I think it would work. The only problem is that the Eagle is faster, has longer legs, and two engines.

I get it. How many times has the Eagle been re-winged? How old are some of these airframes? The same could be said of the BUFF, though. Airman safety is important. There are 236 F-15C & Ds. I think there’s around 180 F-22s. Why not move the Raptors to the interception role?

The JSF needs to come on-line and soon. We’re reaching a point where our military will not have the equipment to perform the most basic and essential of tasks.


Do it this time, Pentagon. Stop vacillating and just make a decision. You’ve got the 1st, 2nd, and 4th largest air forces in the world and a limitless budget. So just make a decision. So long as whatever you buy makes jet noises and has at least 4 hardpoints, we’ll be fine.

1 Like


My heart says nooooo! My brain says that’s logical.


Guess we’ll finally find out if Pierre Sprey was right about the Eagle all along.

I mean it’s the most successful air superiority fighter of the last 50 or so years. By that metric he was proven wrong by 1990. Also keep in mind that the retirement is probably just one of many scenarios the Air Force has come up with. I’m sure there is one that keeps the 15s and retires some 16s.

Oh, I think Sprey is full of nonsense, and you’re right. The Pentagon has all kinds of scenarios they can use to get their job done. The retirement of F-15C & D models just probably make the most sense for the moment.

I really hope that Northrop can move fast on the Raider. They’ve got a solid track record of achievement in low-observable flight with the Spirit (which the Air Force ordered far too few of). If they can retire the B-1, the B-2, and the BUFF, and merely work with only one airframe, that’s going to take their costs down dramatically. I don’t even want to think about what it takes to keep a B-1, let alone a B-52 still flying.

I’d love to scurry around a bit at the 52’ landing gear, fascinating design.


The USAF won’t allow the F-22 to be used that much. They know the operating costs would eat their budget, plus they’d have to share more aircraft with the Guard and Reserve, something anathema to the brass. Further, they wouldn’t be able to replace aircraft lost, not to mention repair and refit after the flight hours are used up.

They could attempt to procure more modern F-15 types to augment the fleet, but that’s not a cheap proposition either. Since they’ve tossed all their eggs in the F-35 basket, they’re in between a rock and a hard place; the US taxpayer is broke and hard decisions will have to be made.



Gods I love that bird.
It’s pretty hard to understand the genius of the cockpit until you spent a dozen hours working in that office.

1 Like

I think the JSF is going to eventually be a benefit to the services. A lot of the same criticisms made about the JSF were also leveled at a lot of other aircraft that wound up being extremely useful. The ‘slim, lightweight’ fighter people championed in the F-16 has since become a portly, slower version of itself, stuffed with electronics to perform missions for which it was never envisioned.

The JSF, like the Hornet, was designed to be able to do a lot of things. A lot of folks keep saying, “jack of all trades, master of none”, but they don’t seem to mind it being put in practice. The F-4, the F-15, the F-16, the F/A-18, even the F-14 were all very successful multirole aircraft. I like that the F-35 is being designed from the outset to be able to perform all those missions, to do a little of everything, rather than bootstrapping a purpose-built aircraft into a purpose it wasn’t meant to do.


I think people are equating the acquisition/procurement process of the F-35 with it’s actual performance. So far it looks like all the pilots love it, and it’s pretty on a pretty good schedule again.

1 Like

What ever happened to the stealth eagle upgrade?

1 Like

My timid guess it that the results were limited.
Specially compared to new hardware being developed by other nations…

Same thing as just about every other solid upgrade idea emerging from the late 90’s to present for the US’ 4th gen fleet- couldn’t get funding because it was earmarked to the F-35.

10’ll get you 20 it’ll get bought by the Saudis.

Essentially the US Fighter pipeline is F-35s at the moment: getting the F-35A hammered out and building as many of them as possible. If I had to guess, that’s why there are no F-16Es in the USAF, nor will there be. I’d likewise doubt the USAF would pay for the 2040C, why replace the Eagle with a newer Eagle when you could grovel for more F-22s instead?

As for replacing the F-15 with the -16, I think it’s a poor idea. The F-16 (despite the guff I love to give it) is a fine jet, but it has an inferior radar (especially to the -63V3) and inferior weapons loading to the F-15C (especially when the pylon upgrade happens), which would mean you’d need more F-16s, more tankers, and more AWACS to accomplish the same air control/air superiority role. We don’t have enough of those last two to go around.

I think that this is always a bit rich when you consider the size of the US defence aparatus :joy:

Anyway, I doubt the upgrades like for example the Stealth Eagle and others would have been sufficient in the long run yet still incure a significant cost on the production line(unfortunately aircraft configurations are not as drag and drop as at times is implied). Besides, the F-35 was supposed to be done earlier at the time those decisions were made.

The article reads very much like a quick stop gap de-mothballing of the F-16 fleet(the US fleet has a comparatively low airframe time vis a vis what has been accomplished with the C variant), and a new radar in the nose. Not a bad solution for the interim to be honest.

Well when we have to support the middle east, the pacific, domestic needs, and that bunch of complete whiners on the western extremity of the Eurasian land mass, it is a challenge to stretch it all around.

The issue with interim measures is they have a nasty habit of becoming long term solutions. I think the obvious solution is moar Raptors

1 Like

Well, I am sure the world will be fine without, give it a go :wink: Just because you guys want to constantly project your presence everywhere doesn’t mean you have to(well you do to guard influence… but eeh).

Raptors are sexy though, but didn’t they close that production line?