Air Force Now Wants Up to 200 F-15EXs

The Air Force’s new contract to Boeing for F-15EX fighters could fund as many as 200 aircraft, a service spokesman said, indicating that USAF could replace almost its entire inventory of F-15C/Ds with EX variants.

The $22.9 billion contract awarded to Boeing on July 13 calls for “a maximum of 200 aircraft, … but 144 is the projected minimum,” the spokesman said in an email clarifying the award. The total number to be procured “is yet to be determined,” he said, adding that the contract is “consistent with the approved Justification and Approval (J&A) document that will be posted in the next couple [of] weeks.”

The Air Force has about 211 F-15C and 23 F-15D fighters, which the service says have outlived their planned service lives and would be cost-prohibitive to be extend much further.

Air Force acquisition executive Will Roper, talking with reporters July 14, said the contract “gives us an upper limit on our total purchasing power.” Some of the contract is cost-plus, though, because “taking a system through test, we can always require something that’s ‘above and beyond.’”

The July 13 contract has a “10-year ordering period and a 15-year period of performance” for up to 200 airplanes, the spokesman said.

According to the contract, the flyaway cost of the F-15EX is $87.7 million, a figure that includes engines. On June 30, General Electric received a $101.4 million contract for the first batch of 19 F-15EX engines; eight pairs for the first eight two-engined jets, plus three spares. Without adjusting for the cost of installations and spare parts, that’s about $5.3 million per engine, or $10.6 million of the cost of every F-15EX.

By comparison, the unit flyaway cost of the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter model, the only other fighter the Air Force is buying, is $77.9 million in Lot 14, with a single Pratt & Whitney F135 engine installed.

Check out Air Force Magazine‘s comprehensive infographic to learn how the F-35A and F-15EX stack up against each other when it comes to production costs, performance, fuel capacity, service life, and more.

The $1.2 billion obligated on July 13 buys the first two F-15EXs, plus nonrecurring engineering (NRE) and product support. “The remaining six” F-15EX included in Lot 1 are “priced options,” the spokesman reported. Those items that are fixed price under the contract include the aircraft, support equipment, initial spares, and most nonrecurring engineering tasks, the service said. “Software integration, test support, and interim contractor support will be purchased under cost-plus contract types,” he said.