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US Air Force F-15 Funding Flying High

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This article first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.

The U.S. Air Force will have spent about $5.8 billion on F-15 programs between fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2017, with F-15E Strike Eagles accounting for about $3.2 billion of that total, according to an Aviation Week Intelligence Network (AWIN) analysis of data provided by Avascent050, an online market analysis toolkit for global defense programs.

Most of the work -- about $3 billion -- is for sustainment and modification of the Strike Eagles, the analysis shows.

As the U.S. Air Force continues to work through cockpit breathing problems for its F-22 Raptor pilots, the service is pushing to more than double the life of its stalwart F-15 Eagles with a series of upgrades.

The U.S. Air Force wanted fatigue tests on C models starting about two and a half years ago, Boeing officials say.

As the F-15 fleet aircraft approached their life expectancies for total flight hours, Boeing says, the Air Force wanted see how far the service could delay fleet retirements.

The design service life for the aircraft is 8,000 flight hours and the oldest aircraft in the fleet have flown more than 10,000 actual flight hours and counting, Boeing says.

Boeing is now working on full-scale fatigue test certifications to push F-15C/D models to 18,000 equivalent flight hours (EFHs) and F-15E models to 32,000 EHFs.

There are several programs to make U.S. and international models better with age. The F-15 radar modernization program proposes to retrofit all F-15Es by 2021 with APG-82(V)1 suites with APG-79 processors, which will offer a fivefold improvement over the APG-63(V)3 equipment in reliability and effectiveness.

The initial operational capability for the radar work is early 2014.

Credit: U.S. Air Force

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