Another thorn in the F-22 and F-35 side

Boeing recently released information on a new variant of the F-15 family, the F-15SE "Silent Eagle", which features stealth technologies and upgraded avionics. It would compete directly with F-22 and F-35 for international sales.

"The F-15 Silent Eagle is designed to meet our international customers' anticipated need for cost-effective stealth technologies, as well as for large and diverse weapons payloads," said Mark Bass, F-15 Program vice president for Boeing. "The innovative Silent Eagle is a balanced, affordable approach designed to meet future survivability needs."

Besides South Korea, target customers for the F-15SE program include Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Israel, he added.

Similar to full stealth fighters, the F-15SE will have different roles and configurations in the opening phase of an air campaign and in the sustainment phase, after air superiority is achieved. Flying with full 'RCS Reduction Package' the F-15SE will be able to carry Air-to-Air (AIM-9 and AIM-120) missiles and air-to-ground munitions to include JDAM and SDB. The aircraft could be configured to F-15SE Multirole Capable aircraft in approximately two hours, providing long range weapon capability, employing missiles such as the SLAM-ER and Harpoon Block II missiles or any other type of weapon qualified for the Strike eagle. In this configuration the aircraft will retain a total fuel capacity of 34,700 lbs at a maximum takeoff gross weight of 81,000 lbs (carrying 29,500 lbs of payload).

According to Boeing estimates, utilizing the twin F110-GE-129 engines the Silent Eagle will be able to reach an approximate mission radius of 800 nautical miles (nm) on air/ground missions and 720 nm on combat air patrols (CAP), employing the RCS reduction kit. Baseline CFT equipped F-15SE can reach 1000 nm on ground attack and 900 nm on CAP. The Silent Eagle will be able to internally carry air-to-air missiles such as the AIM-9 and AIM-120 and air-to-ground weapons such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and Small Diameter Bomb (SDB). The standard, external weapons load used on current versions of the F-15 is available with the traditional CFTs installed.

Survivability improvements include a BAES Digital Electronic Warfare System (DEWS) working in concert with the Raytheon Advanced Electronic Scanning Array (AESA) radar. The aircraft will be fitted with a network-enabled integrated sensor system, comprising a targeting pod, infrared search track (IRST) system, navigation pod, the AESA radar and threat warning ECM. Voice over data communications, employing datalink connectivity will enable the Silent Eagle to rely not only on on-board data, but share and receive sensor data and target location from external sources, assisting in the creation of full and updated situational awareness even in 'silent' modes of operation.

Boeing has completed a conceptual prototype of the CFT internal-carriage concept, and plans to flight-test a prototype by the first quarter of 2010, including a live missile launch. The design, development, and test of this internal carriage system are available as a collaborative project with an international aerospace partner.  Notionally, Boeing estimates the F-15SE’s cost, including airframe, spares and training, at $100 million each.

According to the Korea Times, the Silent Eagle will be Boeing's bid for South Korea's third phase F-X fighter jet acquisition program, to begin by 2012. Earlier, Seoul officials said the third phase program would focus on obtaining the so-called fifth-generation stealth fighters. The F-X aims to procure 120 high-end warplanes by 2020, and Boeing already won the previous two deals with its F-15K fighters.

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