GE Aviation has delivered its first F110-GE-129 engines for the United States Air Force’s F-15EX advanced Eagle fighter. In June, the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCM) awarded GE Aviation a Lot 1 contract to produce 19 F110-GE-129 engines, including installs and spares and modernized engine monitoring system computers for the firsts eight F-15EX. Each F-15EX will have two engines.
“GE’s F110 production line is fully operational and ready to serve the F-15EX program in support of the National Defense Strategy,” said Shawn Warren, GE Aviation’s vice president and general manager of large combat and mobility engines. “We’re proud to deliver these engines to Boeing and do our part to ensure the Air Force’s rapid fielding requirements are met to maintain fighter aircraft capacity.”
GE Aviation’s F110-GE-129 engine is the only engine tested, integrated and certified for the fly-by-wire F-15EX. In 2014, GE began investing resources and made a long-term commitment to become qualified on the F-15EX. GE has significant experience and expertise in aircraft integration, which it accomplished with Boeing through technology and software upgrades, software version changes, and enhancements in F110 performance and durability. The F110 family of engines has surpassed 10 million flight hours. The F110 powers all the F-15s delivered in the last eight years.
F-15EX Advanced Eagle
The “new” F-15EX will replace the older F-15 C/Ds in the US Air Force inventory and will work alongside the more expensive F-35As. Eight F-15EX aircraft were approved in the 2020 budget and 12 were requested in the FY21 budget. The US Air Force plans to purchase a total of 76 F-15EX aircraft over the course of the five-year defense program, although future plans, according to Boeing, include procurement of up to 144 aircraft.
Although US Air Force leaders said in 2019 that the service would prefer funds to purchase additional fifth-generation aircraft such as the F-35, officials today say the F-15EX is the cheapest and most immediate way to upgrade the capabilities provided by older F-15C/D fleets and will be ready to fight as soon as it comes off the assembly line.
The most significant difference between the F-15EX and the legacy F-15 lies in its Open Mission Systems (OMS) architecture. The OMS architecture will allow the rapid introduction of the latest aviation technologies. The F-15EX is a two-seater aircraft and will have fly-by-wire flight controls, a new Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System electronic warfare system, advanced pilot systems, as well as the latest mission systems and software features available for the legacy F-15s. With this technological architecture the F-15EX is designed to evolve from day one.
The first eight F-15EX aircraft will be deployed at the Eglin Air Force Base, Florida to support the testing efforts. Delivery of the first two aircraft is scheduled for the second quarter of fiscal year FY21. The remaining six aircraft are scheduled for delivery in FY23. The US Air Force is using the Strategic Basing Process to determine the deployment positions for subsequent batches of the new F-15EXs.