Boeing Flies Third F-15EX Eagle II, The First Built In Final Operational Configuration


The F-15EX EX3, the first in the final operational configuration. (All image credit: Jerry McGrath/cryonic_photography)

The F-15EX, designated EX3, is expected to be delivered soon, ahead of the decision for the full rate production.

After more than two years after the type’s first flight, Boeing flew for the first time the third F-15EX Eagle II, which is also the first to be built in the final operational configuration. The aircraft flew only with its primer paint and a small serial number (20-0003) on its twin tails, and will receive its final colors and insignias before the delivery to the U.S. Air Force.

The Eagle II recently completed the Integrated Test & Evaluation (IT&E) Phase I, during which the F-15EX participated in 19 Large Force Exercise events where it integrated with 5th generation aircraft, recorded the longest Air-to-Air Missile employment, and validated the first F-15EX employment of the longest non-nuclear Air-to-Ground munition release in the inventory.

The data is currently being analyzed by the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center and Office of the Secretary of Defense Director of Operational Test and Evaluation and will inform the next step of the programme, the full rate production phase. The decision is expected to be announced by the end of the year, according to the Air Force.

Six F-15EXs are expected to be delivered between the end of the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2023 and the first quarter of fiscal year 2024, according to Donn Yates, executive director at Boeing Air Force Fighters and Trainers Business Development. Four of these aircraft will join EX-1 and EX-2 at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, while the last two are expected to Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Another image of the F-15EX EX-3

However, the plan to establish there the Formal Training Unit for the F-15EX is being reconsidered, as the Air Force is evaluating Kingsley Field’s infrastructure and airspace suitability for an F-35 FTU. Should the plan go through, the F-15 training will be taken over by Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, which is already home of the F-15E Strike Eagle FTU. The plans for the 142nd Wing at Portland Air National Guard Base becoming the first operational F-15EX unit in fiscal 2025 are still in place.

This is not the only plan that is changing, as the Air Force is now planning to acquire only 104 F-15EX fighters instead of the initial 144. The unit cost for the 104 aircraft will be $93.95 million per plane in then-year dollars, with a decline of 5.24% from the 2020 baseline program, according to Air Force acquisition reports. Initially, Boeing estimated a unit cost of $80 million per plane.

A further reduction of the numbers would cause another increase in the costs, as it is happening for the EPAWSS. The AN/ALQ-250 Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS) electronic warfare and electronic surveillance system, which will be standard issue on the F-15EX, is being retrofitted on a number of F-15Es, however with the number of aircraft modified being cut, the unit cost of the system went up and recently resulted in a in a Nunn-McCurdy breach.

EX3 landing after its first flight.

Thanks again to Jerry McGrath for the photos he sent us and make sure to follow him on Instagram for more!

Stefano D’Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he’s also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.


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