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The upcoming multinational air exercise Tarang Shakti in August 2024 will see the participation of the United States Air Force (USAF), with the F-15E Strike Eagle taking centre stage. This deployment holds particular significance for India, as Boeing has offered the F-15EX, a more advanced variant of the F-15E, for the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) tender.

While the F-15E participating in Tarang Shakti isn’t the exact variant offered for the MRFA, it provides a valuable opportunity for the IAF to witness the Strike Eagle’s capabilities firsthand. The F-15E boasts a proven track record as a dual-role fighter bomber, capable of air-to-air combat and long-range precision strikes.

F-15EX comes with improved Fly-by-wire flight controls, a new electronic warfare suite, and an advanced radar and computer system that offer superior performance. F-15EX also supports Conformal fuel tanks and a strengthened airframe allows for a 28% larger payload capacity compared to the F-15E.

F-15EX shares 70% of its parts with existing F-15 variants, minimizing infrastructure changes and pilot training requirements and global availability of the spares will remain in production at least till 2070.

The IAF’s MRFA program is a high-stakes competition, with several other contenders vying for the contract. The Tarang Shakti exercise will likely be a crucial platform for various manufacturers to showcase their offerings. The IAF will have the chance to compare aircraft capabilities and assess which platform best aligns with its evolving defence needs.

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