Prat Kumar, Boeing’s Vice President and Program Manager for the F-15 said the company is eyeing India as another potential customer for its slowly-evolving 114-fighter jet requirement. Why Boeing thinks F-15EX will help it win in India for big! is still a mystery for many in India but USAF purchase projection for a minimum of 144 F-15EX jets at around $ 88 million per unit contract having a ceiling of $22.89 billion, shows that Legacy jet made in the 70s is still relevant in 2020 and will continue to remain even in 2050 with major upgrades.

F-15EX is the most advanced Eagle to date, which builds on the F-15QA that is in production for Qatar, and F-15EX is supposed to have a useful life of an amazing 20,000 flight hours and dramatically reduced hourly operating costs compared to the legacy F-15 or the F-35A. F-15EX will be fitted with the same Raytheon AN/APG-82 Active Electronically Scanned Array radar that is a derivate of the AESA Radars which were developed for 5th generation platforms.

Boeing’s winning argument was focused on the lower cost per flight hour of the F-15EX towards USAF which is miffed with the high operating cost of the F-35A which is still $10,000/h more than F-15EX. Coming back to India, F-15EX which is the same class as Su-30MKI and American fighter jet which IAF has never operated in its entire history also makes that lack of American ecosystem and past weapons sanctions have created that negative impression that it will be very difficult for Boeing or Lockheed martin to make inroads but both companies have already made inroads in Transport and Helicopters divisions which are operated by IAF.

Boeing might be trying to position F-15EX as a platform that is not only cheaper than Dassault Rafale but also creates an opportunity for the American companies to remain in the race. F-21 which is rebadged F-16-V is not in minds of IAF’s Top Brass nor is F-18 E/F which is a Carrier-based Navy specific jet. F-15EX is the same class as Su-30MKI which is one of the major negative reason which is not easy to shake off for the Boeing but it might have a plan their also.

Each HAL-built Su-30MKI fighter costs around $70.3 million, an upgraded Super Su-30MKI might come with the Kit upgrade for $ 15-20 million per aircraft if in includes newer AL-41F engines. F-15EX is based, the two-seat Advanced F-15 same as Su-30MKI, but F-15EX has better operational availability of over 75% and could cost the same as an upgraded Su-30MKI for India with a better availability rate.

Su-30MKI will not be replaced by F-15EX, but plans by Boeing will be to position it as a supplementary jet that will argument its air superiority capabilities. IAF chief recently hinted that not all Su-30MKI will be upgraded under the Super Sukhoi program and even talked about retiring older 50 jets procured in 2001, which shows that IAF is not keen in upgrading the majority of the Su-30MKI fleet but also planning to retire the aging ones in next 10 years.

The F-15EX carries more weapons than any other fighter in its class and can launch hypersonic weapons up to 22 feet long and weighing up to 7,000 pounds. Kumar said that the USAF is “happy” with the current dozen air-to-air weapons stations. However, there is no secret is being made of the F-15EX’s ability to carry a large store, such as a hypersonic missile, on its centerline station which they’re trying to subtly tell us something.

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