Boeing and the United States Air Force (USAF) have been in talks for a year and a half about replacing the aging F-15C/D with a brand new advanced Eagle derivative, the F-15X.
The aerospace-defense community was overwhelmingly intrigued by a report from Defenseone.com that said Boeing was pitching a new variant of its 45-year-old F-15 Eagle line of fighters to the United States Air Force. Still, next to nothing is known about this initiative, including where it came from and what it entails. Although it has been framed as a Boeing solicitation to the USAF, the opposite is actually true—the USAF began the discussion over a year and a half ago. Since then, ongoing talks have been kept incredibly hush-hush, along with the details of the aircraft involved—until now.
According to sources familiar with the discussions, The War Zone has learned about the F-15X's origins, its intended capabilities and features, and where it would fit inside the USAF's tactical airpower ecosystem.
The F-15X came out of a quiet USAF inquiry to Boeing and Lockheed Martin about fielding an aircraft that could seamlessly plug into their existing air combat infrastructure as part of better-defined high-low capability mix strategy—one intended to specifically help counter the service's shrinking force structure.
The airframe would have to be cost-effective both in terms of operation and acquisition, very low-risk, and most of all, it would need to be non-disruptive to the larger F-35 procurement initiative. If anything else, it had to be seen as complementary to the F-35, not as an alternative to it.