Why the Air Force's F-15 EX Fighter Would Get Crushed by Russia In a War

David Axe
Boeing

David Axe

Technology, Europe

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Why the Air Force's F-15 EX Fighter Would Get Crushed by Russia In a War

While an F-35 can carry 22,000 pounds of munitions to a ceiling of 50,000 feet and a distance of 670 miles at a top speed of Mach 1.6, the F-15EX can haul 29,500 pounds of weapons as high as 60,000 feet and as far as 1,100 miles at a top speed of Mach 2.5.

The debate continues over the Pentagon’s proposal to buy new F-15EX Eagle fighters from Boeing to complement Lockheed Martin-made F-35 stealth fighters.

As lawmakers weigh the military’s request, Air Force magazine has published an infographic comparing the two fighters.

Both fighters cost roughly $80 million apiece, according to Air Force. But the similarity ends there. The F-35 is stealthier but the F-15 flies higher, farther and faster and carries more weaponry.

(This first appeared in April 2019.)

A Russian-made S-400 air-defense system could detect an F-35 at 20 miles, Air Force estimated. It could pick up an F-15EX 200 miles away.

While an F-35 can carry 22,000 pounds of munitions to a ceiling of 50,000 feet and a distance of 670 miles at a top speed of Mach 1.6, the F-15EX can haul 29,500 pounds of weapons as high as 60,000 feet and as far as 1,100 miles at a top speed of Mach 2.5.

An F-35 costs $35,000 per hour to operate. An F-15EX costs $27,000 per hour.

The new Eagle’s main advantage, however, is that existing F-15 squadrons quickly and cheaply can convert to the type, Air Force‘s John Tirpak explained.

“The F-15EX, USAF argues, is essentially an in-production aircraft. It has upward of 70-percent parts commonality with the F-15C and E already in USAF service and can use almost all the same ground equipment, hangars, simulators and other support gear as the Eagles now in service,” according to Tirpak.

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