posted on Feb, 10 2007 @ 10:16 PM
Any attempt to offer an 'improved' F-15E will have to acknowledge the primary S2A threat axis which it can no longer signture-avoid so much as
defeat. Something particularly important when you realize that the only thing a plus-up Strike Eagle brings to the table right now that the Raptor
Blk.20 can't match is the EO aperture as a principle A2G targeting modeal.
In this, it should be noted that the F-15 with CFTs (where you get the '19 smart weapons stations' nonsense) flies like a pig on skates. The
100-229 or later engines help with the power deficit of the early 220, especially at altitude, but do nothing for the inertial effects of all that gas
nor the drag of the Type IV stubs and HRL. As such, the airframe in general is _not_ survivable, even against present day 'agile' airframes in the
MiG-29/Su-27 class, close up.
OTOH, the JHMCS is already onboard a lot of F-15s, as is the AIM-9X. The CMWS and ALE-50 would be welcome but are also by and large soft-mods that
could be done within the existing fleet if you wanted to gold plate tired airframes. A precision ELS is only useful if it comes with a useful ARM and
right now the USAF doesn't have one 'acknowledged'.
HARM VI, while nice (finally updated past the STARM interface and the creaky old mechanical gyro autopilot) is so huge that when it is uploaded it
sterilizes all the other weapons stations near it. This means you not only lose the wing 610s but also the shoulder rails for AMRAAM and 9X.
AIM-120D, -may- bring a powered-IAM function that is good enough for SHARK attacks on emitters that have been ELS plotted and SAR-patched. But if
that capability is resident; it is also inherent to the F-22 with six internal missiles and the ALR-94 which is supposedly a veritable ELINT
SDB is nice but it's already service released for the centerline and center long rail stations with the corner mounts and wing stations to follow.
So is the Sniper pod which is already replacing AAQ-14 (LANTIRN Targeter) on some Beagles. So again, you're bragging about the obvious here.
A2A, I agree with what others have said, in that you no longer need half the crap they plan given modern BVR-centric tactics and what is present as
baseline will not be sufficiently leveraged by 'dogfight addons' to be worth it.
The Eagle is a fixed limiter machine whose baseline aeros run out of sustained pitch rates somewhere around 26` units and it would take some /serious/
aerodynamic and structural improvement to support higher supermanning at an effective level. The option to integrate the requisite exotic control
modes (PBBN for one) having long since past.
Nobody will want to pay to reclear a strengthened and upengined airframe and the close in mission is just not that important even if there was money
to effectively run out the envelope on a new machine.
OTOH, the longrange requirement doesn't need /any/ serious improvements to performance so much as a new, big, missile which the F-15s native 500lb
carriage capability can support.
Yet there are limits even here because modern turbine or ramjet propulsion options on AAM takes the shot beyond the threshold performance level which
a sprint-to-shoot, highly supersonic, platform can match without impaling itself, again, on the S2A threat.
Of course the high end supersonics is a part of the envelope the F-15E typically can't get to from here because it can't drop the A2G crud it
_should_ be employing. Nor the CFT gas to become drag vs. fuel effective. Indeed, the only way even the Albino community was ever able to compete
was through a clean up/ramp up/sprint up process that stripped their 610s as they accelerated through the Mach and climbed INTO the primary S2A threat
That might have worked back in the 1980 and 90s against SA-2 thru 11 with a horde of EW support assets and not much ECCM smarts in the WARPAC/export
Russian threat. It doesn't work now against the SA-teens and twentysomething derivatives that have integrated Western electronics as well as the new
European missiles like Aster and BAMSE with all the goodies already onboard.
Not without integral vice strapon LO to bring the baseline detection threshold well below 20nm.
Something which will never happen the brutal lines of the F-15, even before you consider the external stores as the primary (biggger, bulkier)
carriage mode efficiency gain over the F-22 and 35.
Put the same (X4 12-14ft, 500-600lb) missile capability into an uninhabited, subsonic, stealth penetrator and CUE it's smart-pylon launch from a
remote radar platform which subsequently commands the missile midcourse directly and you can actually do more to preposition your shots to advantage
within the threat baselanes (and ahead of a strike package) than the F-15s can playing shotgun escort within the safety of the jamming corridors can
That this can be done on a primary A2G platform within a larger overall fleet inventory that suffers fewer sortie losses once Air Supremacy is
established is equally critical.
What you are seeing here is just the USAFs allowance of Boeing to muddy the waters with false promises of advanced systems development which is either
already slated for the current models (the F-15K has the IRST) or which end users hope to jump onto after we pay the tab by retrofit (the
And we shouldn't have to argue against our own case as an example of "Don't build the F-15E+, well then we'll just /have to/ build the F-35 I
guess..." indulgence in the manipulative psychology of the USAF who will continue to throw bones at these adhoc solutions just to keep things in a
muddle while the only /real/ money goes into the worthless F-35.
Speaking of which, clearly the problem is not the airframe but the manned system spec around which it is built.
Anything which has the F-word (fighter) attached should be immediately treated with suspicion in a netcentric age, IMO. If only because the next
great Air Superiority platform is almost certainly going to be a 747.
And the gits in the USAF know it to the extent that, especially with todays percentage AAW encounters against total sorties flown, there is no excuse
for their arrogance in assuming that we should pay for ANY new toy that doesn't do more than simply let them play Red Baron at the clubhouse.
IMO, the F-15ABCD will pass the way of the F-14, being totally out of active service by no later than 2015 and possibly even as early as 2012. The E
may take awhile longer but the HDLD utilization rates will knacker it rather quickly as well.
What will replace them will depend as much on how much residual yearly-rate expansion capbility is left in the now 'lean' (stripped bare) Marietta
line on the Raptor as much as whatever rubbish they eventually get round to shoving out the door in Ft. Worth.
But if we're lucky, there will be politics as usual drastic cuts in all the force structures and the only remnant of 'fighter air' which is not
expeditionary silver bullet oriented will be those poor dumb clucks in the Continental ADF mission which can more or less bore holes in local Guard
unit F-16s until their wings fall off.
Of course, for INT and CAS, we'll still be stuck with useless platforms like the A-10, U-2, F-117 and pre.30 CCIP F-16s until someone strangles the
AF Chief with his own guts but every little step towards UCAVs by default of cost and inept service performance is a good one.
I only hope Congress 'takes a page' from the USAF procurement handbook on this, joint-conference allocating less and less funds to the _UPT_ pipe
and staticizing the pay grades for another decade until the existing fleets are unsustainable as much for manning as logistics while also doing as
little as possible to 'enable' the 120 million dollar blunder that is F-35.
Grow up people. Put your damn white scarf mentality away along with the Big Wheels and Atari Consoles.