They ‘why’ is obvious: Russia and China.
The Air Force is arming the F-15 with new weapons to better prepare the decades-old fighter for modern combat challenges and near peer rivals – giving the jet an ability to fly into the 2040s and track and destroy enemy targets at further ranges under a wide range of combat conditions.
“The Air Force plans to integrate improvements for the AIM-9X and Small Diameter Bomb II on the F-15 over the next several years,” Capt. Emily Grabowski, Air Force spokeswoman, told Warrior Maven.
Air Force officials say the F-15 could be fully armed and operational with the SBD II as soon as this year.
The SDB II, now nearing operational readiness, is a new air-dropped weapon able to destroy moving targets in all kinds of weather conditions at ranges greater than 40-miles, Air Force and Raytheon officials said.
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While the Air Force currently uses a laser-guided bomb called the GBU-54 able to destroy moving targets, the new SDB II will be able to do this at longer ranges and in all kinds of weather conditions.
The Air Force currently operates roughly 400 F-15C, D and E variants – and plans to keep the aircraft flying into the 2040s.
The new weapons are part of a larger F-15 sustainment and modernization overhaul which is integrating new sensors, targeting, electronic warfare systems and radar as well.
“Active Electronically Scanned Array radars are currently being installed on F-15C and F-15E aircraft at a rate of about 20 per year. Both AESA radars have met initial operational capability. Installs will continue at a similar rate until each platform has met full operational capability, projected to be 2022 for the F-15C and 2025 for the F-15E,” Grabowski said.