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SOURCE: RAUNAK KUNDE / NEWS BEAT / IDRW.ORG.

The US Air Force (USAF) officially accepted the first F-15EX fighter on 10 March at Boeing’s St Louis production facility in Missouri and race has begun to find a second customer for the latest avatar of the American Eagle with India being on the radar of not only of the Boeing but also of key officials in the Pentagon. US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin will visit India later this month and will stress two major offers that Pentagon has been offering India for quite a time now.

Pentagon is keen that India scraps S400 air defense system deal with Russia and instead has offered to co-develop long-range air defense system in the line of S-400 with India or India could be part of the American-Israeli system under development, second on offer is local manufacturing of the F-15EX with weapons package unmatched in Asia.

India will be offered top-of-line AIM-120C-8 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAM) along with AIM-120C-7 with written assurance that same or higher AMRAAMs will not be provided to Pakistan’s F-16 fleet. Information provided to idrw.org, says that even AIM-260 Joint Advanced Tactical Missile might be on offer to very few countries once it is ready and India will among an elite few who are under consideration.

AIM-260 will not have ramjet propulsion but novel propulsion which will have a “boost-coast-boost” configuration, that will allow the missile to engage its targets with more energy, or runs on a higher-energy propellant than previous generations of solid motors, to exceed the performance of the MBDA’s Meteor that presently has the 60km “no-escape zone”, biggest among any air to air missile, that will put F-15EX ahead of Dassault Rafale.

The second revolutionary part of the weapons package will be the Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) system which aims to combine a laser system on a fighter jet to defend against incoming missile threats. This laser system will showcase the defensive capabilities of aircraft against surface-to-air (SAM) and air-to-air (AAM) missiles. India has been told both this system will be tested and will enter production by 2024 and India will be among the few countries who be offered this next-generation air-to-air weapons system that the Pentagon claims will make F-15EX far superior then Dassault Rafale.

F-15EX offered to India will come equipped with Raytheon’s AN/APG-82(V)1 AESA radar that can simultaneously detect, identify and track multiple air and surface targets at longer ranges than ever before. The longer standoff range facilitates persistent target observation and information sharing for informed decision-making. F-15EX will have Open Mission Systems (OMS) architecture, that will enable the rapid insertion of the latest aircraft technologies.

Eagle Passive/Active Warning and Survivability System (EPAWSS) developed by BAE Systems, will be upgraded to protect the F-15EX against all-new enemy air defense systems. In short, Pentagon is packaging its latest F-15EX offer has an aircraft that is better than Dassault Rafale in terms of the weapons package it is offering along with upgraded radar and avionics at a much affordable price for India.

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