First Flight: Boeing’s Advanced F-15EX


The latest generation of the venerable F-15 fighter took flight today in St. Louis, with Boeing chief test pilot Matt Giese at the controls. The flight lasted 90 minutes, and began and ended at Lambert field. The F-15EX is a technologically advanced version of the fighter that entered service in 1974, with fly-by-wire controls, a stronger airframe and much more modern computers and sensors. 

“Today’s successful flight proves the jet’s safety and readiness to join our nation’s fighter fleet,” said Prat Kumar, Boeing vice president and F-15 program manager. “Our customer can feel confident in its decision to invest in this platform that is capable of incorporating the latest advanced battle management systems, sensors and weapons due to the jet’s digital airframe design and open mission systems architecture.” According to Boeing, the F-15EX’s “digital backbone” means it can be used as a “testbed for future technology insertion, a key capability for the Air Force.”

“On behalf of the GE team, congratulations to Boeing and the United States Air Force on the first flight of the F-15EX,” said Shawn Warren, general manager, GE Large Combat & Mobility Engines. “This milestone reflects the teamwork and dedication focused on the capabilities of this outstanding fighter. We are proud to power the Air Force’s most advanced F-15 fighter.”

The first eight aircraft will cost $1.1 billion as part of a planned 144-aircraft program. 

Marc Cook
KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.

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  1. I thought they were working on a version of the F-15 with canted vertical surfaces to reduce the radar cross section. Doesn’t look like they’ve done anything to this model to reduce the observability. Still, I love the F-15. It’s my all-time favorite. Glad to see development of that airframe.

  2. The reduced RCS model was quite a bit more expensive and for what they are proposing to use these for they don’t really need it. These are mainly to be based in the US as interceptors for homeland defense. They are replacing the Guard units F-15Cs that are reaching the end of their useful life. Since they aren’t intended to be flown into areas with high numbers of enemy SAMs the reduced RCS doesn’t buy you as much. With the bomber threat not nearly as large any more they would most likely be called upon for something like chasing down a terrorist or potentially cruise missiles. You don’t really need reduced RCS for that. What you do need is a good radar, large missile capacity (for the cruise missile threat) and high speed. an F-15 with upgraded electronics is perfect for this.