USAF Considers Replacing F-15Cs with Upgraded F-16s

The Air Force is considering whether it will retire its F-15C fleet and replace it with F-16s with upgraded active electronically scanned array radars, service leaders told House legislators on Wednesday. Lt. Gen. Scott Rice, director of the Air National Guard, and Maj. Gen. Scott West, director of current operations, said planning conversations on the transition are ongoing in testimony before the House subcommittee on readiness Wednesday afternoon. “We do have capacity in the F-16C community to recapitalize it with an improved radar to serve the same function as the F-15 has done, and thereby reduce the different systems that we have to sustain and operate,” West told the committee. He said the change would produce savings “so that we can make other choices either for modernization or [to] grow endstrength.” When Reps. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) expressed concern that the F-16 would not be able to fulfill the air-to-air superiority role of the faster, more agile F-15C, Rice replied that, “Our readiness and protection of the US will change, but overall I think that we will be okay.” He also said, “I think we’re getting beyond” air-to-air superiority, and that “systems and how they integrate is as important, and in the future will be even more important, than the platform itself.”