Boeing gets $1.2bn USAF contract to make first F-15EX fighter jets

The United States Air Force (USAF) has awarded aerospace company Boeing a contract valued at nearly $1.2 billion, requesting that it build the first eight F-15EX advanced fighter jets for its future fleet. The private company has already started work on the first two of these eight jets, according to Boeing, which says it is building the vehicles at its F-15 fighter jet facility in St. Louis.

In its own announcement, the USAF explains that Boeing will design the F-15EX fighter jets, develop and manufacture them, and even provide technical data and support under its contract, as well as training materials. The USAF has also revealed its new Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity $23 billion F-15EX contract.

Over the next five years, the US Air Force plans to buy a total of 76 of these advanced fighter jets, which Air Combat Command commander Gen. Mike Holmes says are 'the most affordable and immediate way to refresh the capacity and update the capabilities' of its current F-15 fleet.

What makes the F-15EX so special? The USAF explains that this fighter jet has fly-by-wire flight controls, more advanced systems in the cockpit, an Open Mission Systems architecture, a new system for electronic warfare, and the latest legacy F-15s software capabilities and mission systems. The Air Force describes the OMS as the biggest difference between the two models.

In a statement, Boeing's VP and F-15 Program Manager Prat Kumar said:

F-15EX brings together benefits of digital engineering, open mission systems and agile software development to keep it affordable and upgradable for decades to come. This means we can rapidly test and field new capabilities on F-15EX keeping our warfighters ahead of threats ... What we will soon deliver is a modern and robust aircraft that supports our nation's defense by incorporating the latest systems, sensors and weapons.