Boeing revealed the newest iteration of the F-15 Eagle, the original Countach of the skies, this week. This new Boeing F-15 Silent Eagle is more stealthy, more ninja and more re-vamped for the 21st century.
I know what you're all thinking; "What happened to my Jalopnik??" Don't worry, we're not a fully engaged Planelopnik just yet, but we had to show you this newest iteration of the F-15. It's a Jalopnik-esque story of a beat up and forgotten platform, that's been revamped and re-engineered to compete with the newest bad boys on the scene, the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Boeing is marketing the new F-15 Silent Eagle for the international set that want to get into the modern jet age, but don't have access to our newest, greatest ninja toys. The customers that Boeing has aimed its sights at are Israel, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and South Korea, which are all current F-15 customers.
Boeing has significantly re-worked the aeronautic design of the jet, though the overall profile remains familiar. Most noticeable are the new canted vertical V-tails that not only improve aerodynamic efficiency, but provide additional lift and critically reduce airframe weight. Also attributing to the improved aerodynamic profile is the Digital Flight Control System, which allows for much greater pilot control and feedback.
The ninja factor of the F-15 Silent Eagle is not anywhere near the stealth features designed into the F-22 or even the F-117 Nighthawk, but Boeing has improved certain design treatments as well as using a special coating on the jet's exterior to help deflect enemy radar. The single largest improvement to the F-15 Silent Eagle is the new conformal fuel tanks (CFT) that give the jet the capability to carry its air-to-air AIM-9 and AIM-120 missles and the air-to-ground weapons, Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and the Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) inside the tank, dramatically cleaning up the exterior radar signature. It can also carry the traditional F-15 armament attached to the wings and under belly, making the F-15 Silent Eagle a truly configurable jet. Boeing is planning an in-flight test launch of this system in 2010.
Boeing is not officially marketing the F-15 Silent Eagle to its largest customer, the U.S. Air Force; but has announced the ability to retrofit any existing F-15 with the new system. If you're buying new, Boeing is estimating that the total cost, including air frame, spare parts and training will run around $100 million per unit. You won't find us buzzing around in one of these, but while we're wooing "Maximum" Bob Lutz, we thought we'd bring this 'Countach of the Sky' to his (and your) attention.
And now, back to your regularly scheduled Jalopnik.
Boeing Press Release:
ST. LOUIS, March 17, 2009 — The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] today in St. Louis unveiled the F-15 Silent Eagle (F-15SE), a new F-15 configuration designed to meet the future needs of international customers.
"The F-15 Silent Eagle is designed to meet our international customers' anticipated need for cost-effective stealth technologies, as well as for large and diverse weapons payloads," said Mark Bass, F-15 Program vice president for Boeing. "The innovative Silent Eagle is a balanced, affordable approach designed to meet future survivability needs."
Improvements in stealth include coatings and treatments on the aircraft. With the added advantage of redesigned conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) that allow for internal weapons carriage, the Silent Eagle becomes a very attractive fighter for Boeing's international customers.
Depending on the specific mission, the customer can use the CFTs that are designed for internal carriage or change back to the traditional CFTs for optimum fuel capacity and external weapons carriage. The Silent Eagle will be able to internally carry air-to-air missiles such as the AIM-9 and AIM-120 and air-to-ground weapons such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and Small Diameter Bomb (SDB). The standard weapons load used on current versions of the F-15 is available with the traditional CFTs installed.
The aircraft's canted vertical tails improve aerodynamic efficiency, provide lift, and reduce airframe weight. Another aerodynamic improvement is the Digital Flight Control System, which improves the aircraft's reliability and reduces airframe weight.
Survivability improvements include a BAES Digital Electronic Warfare System (DEWS) working in concert with the Raytheon Advanced Electronic Scanning Array (AESA) radar.
Boeing has completed a conceptual prototype of the CFT internal-carriage concept, and plans to flight-test a prototype by the first quarter of 2010, including a live missile launch.
The design, development, and test of this internal carriage system are available as a collaborative project with an international aerospace partner.