Air Force Updates F-15 Fleet’s Radars, Sensors

Air Force Updates F-15 Fleet’s Radars, Sensors

The Air Force is in the early phases of a fleet-wide technological upgrade to the F-15 fighter jet to keep it in the air through 2035 and beyond, service officials said.

The upgrades include new radar, electronic warfare gear and computer systems for the F-15 C/D variants and the F-15E dual-role fighter, said Lt. Col. William Ottati, F-15 Program Element Monitor.

The F-15 C/D fighter planes, which first emerged in the mid-70s, are primarily engineered for air-to-air combat and air superiority missions. The F-15E strike eagle aircraft, first produced in the late 1980s, combine air-to-air attack technology with ground-strike mission ability.

Air Force leaders want to upgrade the fighters with the latest radars, electronics and sensors in order to keep them viable should the U.S. face a more advanced military than Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We’re trying to make the entire fleet more capable for the future environment,” said Ottati.

The upgrades for the F-15 C/D fleet include the installation of the APG-63(V)3 Active Electronically-Scanned Array, or AESA radar. Unlike existing mechanically-scanned arrays which passively scan and receive signals, the AESA radar is able to transmit and electromagnetic signal or ping. This allows for more precise and accurate radar, threat detection and targeting technology, including the ability to track more than one target simultaneously.

So far, the Air Force has installed 60 of the new radars, which have been in production since 2006, service officials said. A totally of 179 aircraft will be modified. There are a total of 248 F-15 C/Ds in the overall fleet, Air Force officials said.

The F-15 E also has an ongoing radar modernization program which is installing an APG-82(V)1 AESA radar on board the aircraft. Thus far, eight of these new radars have been installed since 2010 and the service plans to outfit 217 F-15Es with them.

Both of these radar upgrade programs are slated to move into full-rate production at the end of this month, Ottati said.

The entire fleet of F-15s is slated to receive mission computer upgrades in the cockpit through an effort the Air Force called Advanced Display Computer Processor II. The technology, slated to implement over the next several years, will bring much greater processing capability to the aircraft compared to existing systems, Ottati explained.

F-15s are also getting a next-generation electronic warfare suite called Eagle Passive/Active Warning Survivability System, or EPAWSS, Ottati added.  The idea with EPAWSS is to provide a fifth-generation electronic warfare capability to a fourth-generation fighter such as the F-15.

EPAWSS allows for sophisticated jamming capability as well as geo-location technologies, target identification, infrared threat detection and decoy capabilities.

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WHAT, that air force wasting money on a 4th gen outdated air ‘frame’ designed back in the 60’s. What are they thinking? The F-35 Mega Smoke-a-Joint Super Awesome Fighter is supposed to replace the entire F-15, F-16 fleets. Heck the F-35 will be so awesome by the time it’s fully operation in the year 2037 (which is right around tie corner I remind you) that the air force could actually be dis-banded since all of our possible enemies will be cowering in their bomb shelters.

I’d say, stop the upgrading madness and start shoveling more money faster into the F-35 black hole, (oops I slipped ) ;-P

Well, at least some good news finally this week. Of course, none of this would have been necessary if better USAF Tacair acquisition decisions had been made over the last 10–15 years, such as:

— Finish the F-22 buy, and invest some dollars in cost reduction initiatives, particulary support costs. Rethink decision not to allow FMS to closest allies to further reduce cost.
— Scrap the F-35A design, and begin design of a true low-cost F-16 replacement. Accelerate deployment by capitalizing on avionics and propulsion systems already partially designed for the F-35 while avoiding kinematic performance penalties associated with F-35B airframe commonality.


hey Talosian you are now in charge of the air force, oops wait, you exceed the IQ limit, sorry bud.… ;-P

15 years ago DOD should have rebuilt the requirements and looked at Green Hills as a dead end, single source heart breaker, 10 years ago Lockheed should have started the software effort in a language that wasn’t 20 years old, with 20 years of baggage. How can a company bid a project then miss the bid by $163 billion and 7 years?

I’d say fire the personal that had anything to do with the contracts with Lockheed.

I thought they were cutting 50 F15C’s? Surely upgrading them will be a waste of money…

You need to have the option to pull them out of the Boneyard and upgrade them when the F35 pushes too far out. If they last in the Boneyard just like the strategicly boneyarded C-32.

And which modern programming language would you have suggested? Lockheed is using c++, which is not as suited as Ada when it comes to reliability and large scale development. And unlike the popular belief Ada is not slower than c++, it all depend of the compiler.

DoD claimed victory way too fast when they closed the ajpo and ended the Ada law.

Old programming languages are more like jovial (former air force favorite) and cobol (former army favorite).

I wouldn’the surprised that it have something to see with the stolen capabilities from lockheed in 2007, there is an article about that in the Washington times (j20 and f35).

How do you think c++ compare with that? Or java?

The airframe on the C&D models are tired. They should just build some F-15SE’s for alert forces in the USA.

Glad for this upgrade. How bout a few dozen new Eagles? The F15SE might be a better deal than other options.

What happened to the Air Farce not being able to afford single-role aircraft, such as the A-10? Maybe that doesn’t apply to air superiority fighters?

Add thrust vectoring and super cruise too!

Good idea since the F-35 will probably be delayed again. While we are at it add super criuse and thrust vectoring the to F-15SE.

I was thinking more like what the navy did with the super hornet. The silent eagle is new construction with modern everything. Even what we built for export as recently as ten years ago would be fine. But the SE has moderate stealth considerations and 5th gen electronics. The supercruise might be achievable with the right engine. The British Lightning could supercruise 50 years ago.

Too bad we didn’t buy sukhoi’s thrust vectoring 20 years ago. They were probably desperate enough to sell it.

No the F-22 was supposed to replace the F-15 the JSF was to replace the F-16.

Good investment The F-15C is not a 70s built frame the F-15A was, which they are all retired. The C was built in the 80s. I think its a good investment and along with the new helet targeting system C will get will make the F-15 still a dangerous opponent in the air. Remember in air to air combat USAF IAR RSAF F-15s have a kill ratio about 400+ to 0 MiGs and Shukois vs Eagles mind you.

They tried in the early 90s and made a thrust vectoring Eagle. But it was killed by Pres HW Bush first budget cuts.

CAS planes are not as sexy to dimbat USAF Generals give you a clue.


Nah, everything is multi now and my that I really mean its a missile fighter.

Granted these fighters won’t be able to use these missiles at the extreme ranges they are best at and must close to a range which benefits their opponents not designed as missile fighters which are less maneuverable.

No one lets the fighter engage before they can be positive they aren’t shooting at a friendly or a civilian now.

Genius ain’t it.

How about starting F-22 production again? Seems like a good ship. New electronics and all. I know all the tooling is stored…

Wasn’t the C or D Models the ones that had the fuselage breaking up? Did we fix that problem?

You do? Thought LM would’ve much of it to spite the Air Force. Only need enough to fabricate spares and all.

Lockheed should have based it’s JSF support software environment on the F-22 program’s ADA and overall SW solution. Their avionics Software concepts were primitive and ill founded, as was their core processing HW/SW architecture. Nothing like ‘open’ and commercial ‘off the shelf’ solution for multi-million lines of code development. Congratulation to Ft. Worth and NG Baltimore for a collosal failure.

You want to add supercruise and thrust vectoring to the F-15? They already did that plus all aspect stealth. It’s called the F-22, but you know what happened to that program.

An F-15B was modified with 2D thrust vectoring nozzles that also allowed for thrust reversing, plus canards. The primary goal was just for shorter takeoff and landing for use on shorter runways representative of possible damage in a war. The other goal was to enable control of the aircraft at high angles of attack and allow for greater maneuverability.

It worked, but the setup added a lot of weight and never led to such features being introduced into the active F-15 fleet. Requirements for “supermanueverability” and STOL were included in the ATF program although the later was relaxed at an early date so complicated thrust-reversal features didn’t have to be incorporated into the aircraft, saving weight and cost.

Later in the same aircraft was modified with 3D thrust vectoring nozzles for testing all sorts of advanced flight control systems and aerodynamic studies.

I’ve read this before, however, what the C/D models REALLY need are engine upgrades. Namely, using the E model’s Pratt & Whitney F100-229 turbofans that produce 29,000 lbs of thrust each, compared to the C’s –220 turbofans that produce 23,600 lbs each. Performance is key here, especially in a dogfight. All those upgrades would amount to nothing if the C/D models don’t have engines to move all this extra weight around. If the C model is still expected to play in the air superiority role, upgrading the engines is of vital importance. This is something the Air Force has neglected and it’s time they do something about that.

I thought somebody in congress included something in a bill requiring all of that tooling to be stored rather than destroyed. Even with that it would cost an arm and a leg to reestablish the production line (new subcontractors have to be found for tons of different components). Redoing the avionics is another challenge but all of it is theoretically possible. We might as well make some changes to the airframe too if we were to do all of this. Enlarge the aircraft for greater range and internal weapons capacity sort of like the the FB-22–1 concept which pretty much just enlarged the basic design as opposed to the other FB-22 concepts which were much more extensive revisions.

Of course costs are going to be initially high so you’d have people who don’t understand screaming “Why do the first of these new F-22s cost 3x as much as the last one built in 2011?!”

And of course you have the other argument that with all that this involves we might as well just make a new fighter. Look at Lockheed and Boeing’s hypothetical “6th generation” designs. Hopefully we could leverage much of the work done on the F-35 in regards to avionics, networking, sensor fusion, automated logistics, etc.

The F-15C upgrade is a necessary result of F-22 production being cut back so drastically. The F-22 was never intended to replace the F-15E however which serves as a long range fighter-bomber. Since the F-15Es are newer, stronger airframes they should have a lot of life left in them.

The F-15E couldn’t match the larger F-111 it replaced in some categories but it still outclasses the F-16 and F-35 in the range and payload categories. Ideally the F-15E should be replaced by a new design instead of forcing the F-35 into that role as well.

The F-22’s software situation in earlier years was simply disastrous. I’ve heard the claim that at one point things got so out of hand they basically had to redo it all. Remember the stories about malfunctions when crossing time zones and the ****pit refusing to open? It certainly isn’t the model to imitate.

The DoD had a hard time adapting to the change in the early ‘90s when they were no longer leading industry in terms of computer technology like they had in the past. The F-35’s software/hardware plan is supposed to overcome a lot of the problems they had with the F-22 but it has its own set of troubles as we see.

Then it mean that Lockheed screwed two avionics system in a row, in two different languages. In the case of the f22 they used a different approach to save development cost, it might be the culprit, but judging different approach in term of reliability, especially of hard real time mission critical is beyond my competences.

By the way the f22 cip is far from being short in computing power. I don’t understand why peopleople keep listening to windows/apple fanboy whom believe that its problem were related to its programming languages and that windows is so much better because their personal computer does not crash too often. Sure some algorithm are significantly easier to write with more computing power, but as we have seen with the f 35 bloated software creates problems of its own.

OTOH the eurofighter, amongst many other project was coded in ada , and I never heard of issue similar to the f-22, except perhaps its developmental cost, but once again its main cause is not related to the programming language used.

Mon Dec 12, 2011, (Reuters) — Even as the last F-22 fighter jet rolls out of flag-draped doors at a Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) assembly plant on Tuesday, the Air Force has taken steps that leave open an option to restart the premier plane’s production relatively cheaply.
The Air Force is preserving the hardware used to build the jet, not scrapping it, although it insists this is solely to sustain the fleet over its projected 30-plus years’ “life-cycle.” “You don’t know what the economy and the strategic picture will look like in a decade,” he said. “And if one gets better and the other gets worse, you could see a restart.” said Richard Aboulafia, a combat plane expert at the Teal Group aerospace consultancy.

That F-15 was the S/MTD STOL/Maneuver Technology Demonstrator.
Add to that supermaneuverability list the F-16 CCV and AFTI variants, and the ones with the AVEN vectoring engine.

The US had plenty of opportunities to field its current aircraft designs with maneuver-enhancing technologies that various testbeds proved could be very effective.
Even the joint venture between Rockwell and MBB, the X-31,
or even that X-29 with the canards and forward-swept wings, all these test aircraft proved that enhanced maneuverability had a lot more advantages to be gained for an airframe than anything lost, EXCEPT STEALTH.

Now all we have to show for all that R&D is a limited number of F-22s who only ever get to flex their thrust-vectoring muscle against allied aircraft in mock dogfights.
The “eurocanard” designs go all the way back to the Swedish Viggen: were it upgraded with modern kit as has been done with everything from F-4s to Eagles and F-16s, it would still be first-rate.
How many of us growing up in the 1980s always wanted to see the USAF field an F-16XL derivative?
Couple it to the AFTI/CCV canards andthe AVEN engine, such a platform could prove too maneuverable for any human pilot to handle.

“This comment has been deleted by the administrator.”

Again with the fail-scrub moderation of this forum.
Curious just what exactly in those two paragraphs was deemed so offensive.

As far as I know the moderation system will delete your post based on certain keywords. It’s really a pain in the ass.

Imagine it’s 1988 or something, given you have only so much funding to work with does it make more sense to try to jam all sorts of new systems that require significant changes into F-15s, or have such test aircraft influence the requirements for the next fighter (ATF) in development. The later makes more sense. Forward swept wings do allow for enhanced maneuverability but they have their own share of problems too. Forward swept wings + TVC would likely be simply too much for a pilot to make use of. Consider how the Russians never went anywhere with their Su-47.

And then there is the question of how much maneuverability is needed. In the past two decades missiles and radar have become much more capable. All of the crazy maneuvers in the world aren’t going to something like an AIM-9X Sidewinder in a dogfight. Does the F-16 with its impressive “basic” level of maneuverability really need TVC if it has AIM-120s and AIM-9X Sidewinders with a helmet mounted sight? Can a typical pilot really take advantage of some of the crazy maneuvers possible with the CCV/AFTI F-16?

The F-16XL is admitted an impressive aircraft. Yet it wasn’t the most well suited for the role it competed against the F-15E for. The F-16XL or a variant like the F-16AT “Falcon 21″ could have given the aircraft greater range/payload and supplemented earlier F-16s until their next-gen definite replacement arrived. On the negative side those variations are quite a bit different to manufacture and would require the F-16 production line to be revamped. That is probably part of the reason none of those ideas were pursued, considering that Block 50/52 and later “standard” F-16 variants were still selling.

Yep Lockheed blew the budget so bad they had to cancel production.

Lockheed chose C++ because they could get cheaper engineers and C++ has a bug rate of 15 times that of ADA. By reducing salary costs and increasing the amount of rework they maximized their profits.

Scrap the F-35 and buy the Gripen E for the USAF to replace the F-16. In Red Flag exercises the Gripen C did very well against F-16s and F-15s and they are relatively cheap to buy and operate.

Yeah, I know.
But you’d think with how many years Defense-Tech, and its sister site DoDBuzz, have been around, they’d have better refined the parameters about what should be allowed.
Can’t even say c*ckpit around here without risking deletion unless you throw that little asterisk in there in place of the “o”.
A perfectly legit word in the parlance of umpteen defense webistes, but noooo, we can’t spell it correctly.

What about adding IRST, like the Navy is to their super hornets?

Believe it or not an F-15E from the 335th FS reached 10,000 hours before any C/D model. It was designed to last more hours so the truth is the C/D models need replacement. If the F-22 production cannot be restarted then we need to invest in newer F-15’s.

I agree (=:. We should accept that the Air Force is completely incompetent at project management. They couldn’t build a replica of a P-51 for less than 20 billion. We if can’t/won’t build enough F-22’s, maybe we should update the F-15’s or build new single seat F-15’s (lighter and more maneuverable than the E’s). F100-PW-232 engines, radar update, IRST, some Stealth Eagle features.
One problem with building less than 200 F-22’s is attrition in wartime. Tremendous numbers of aircraft are lost in war due to accidents in training and combat.


maybe they should go to sweden an d see how they do it

maybe they should have used Basic

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