F-15 Silent Eagle stealth fighter could be considered as alternative to F-35 joint strike fighter amid tight budgets

By John Keller

Posted by John Keller

The Boeing Co. may be stealing a march on rival defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. with the radar-evading F-15 Silent Eagle stealth fighter , designs for which made a demonstrator flight last week in St. Louis. As a stealth aircraft , the 1970s-vintage F-15 jet fighter may be a viable near-term alternative to the Lockheed Martin F-35 joint strike fighter in some applications.

The stealthy version of the F-15 uses special surface coatings, conformal internal weapons bays, and other advanced technologies that enable the F-15 Silent Eagle to evade some kinds of air-to-air radar systems, although experts say the stealth version of the F-15 may not be able to avoid sophisticated ground-based air-defense radars. Conformal weapons bays also may enable the aircraft to function as a stealth bomber .

Israel is watching the F-15 Silent Eagle closely , and may consider the Boeing aircraft to be a more affordable and more available combat aircraft than the F-35. Some in the Israeli defense ministry favor buying the F-15 Silent Eagle in the face of expected additional delays in the F-35 development. The Silent Eagle also reportedly is one-third less expensive than the F-35.

Israeli purchases of the F-15 Silent Eagle would enhance the aircraft's credibility in the international market, which is precisely Boeing's target for the new aircraft. Boeing developed the Silent Eagle in response to international user requirements for a cost-effective, high-performance fighter aircraft to defend against future threats.

The F-15 Silent Eagle offers unique aerodynamic, avionics, and radar cross section reduction features that provide the user with maximum flexibility to dominate the ever-changing advanced threat environment. The aircraft's Conformal Weapons Bays can carry a variety of air-to-air missiles and air-to-ground weapons.

With the U.S. defense budget under increasing pressure to downsize, who knows? If the Silent Eagle catches on internationally, perhaps it could find a home in U.S. fighter squadrons.

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The Mil & Aero Bloggers

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Ernesto Burden is the publisher of PennWell’s Aerospace & Defense Media Group, including Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence and Avionics Europe.  He’s a father of four, a runner, and an avid digital media enthusiast with a deep background in the intersection of media publishing, digital technology, and social media. He can be reached at ernestob@pennwell.com and on Twitter @aero_ernesto.

Courtney E. Howard, as executive editor, enjoys writing about all things electronics and avionics in PennWell’s burgeoning Aerospace and Defense Group, which encompasses Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence, the Avionics Europe conference, and much more. She’s also a self-proclaimed social-media maven, mil-aero nerd, and avid avionics geek. Connect with Courtney at Courtney@Pennwell.com, @coho on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

Mil & Aero Magazine

February 2014
Volume 25, Issue 2
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