Last month the United States Air Force awarded a $1,579,662,187 contract to General Electric, GE Edison Works, Cincinnati, for the purchase of twenty-nine engines—installs and spares—in support of the production of 12 Boeing F-15EX Eagle II aircraft. Initial deliveries of the engines will begin in October 2023.
This selection will make GE the sole propulsion provider for the entire Air Force fleet of planned Eagle II aircraft, the highly upgraded variant of the fourth-generation fighter jet, which is expected to have a structural life that could keep the aircraft flying into the 2050s.
"The United States Air Force is proud to partner with General Electric as our engine manufacturer that will power America's newest, advanced F-15 aircraft," said Brig. Gen. Dale R. White.
"As the program executive officer of fighters and advanced aircraft, I am laser-focused on ensuring the rapid delivery of this new aircraft to our warfighters," Gen. White added. "Not only will it reduce sustainment costs and drive down risk as it replaces our aging F-15C/D fleet, it will also deliver new capabilities that complement the existing and future TACAIR (tactical air) portfolio."
The F-15EX is the latest version of the proven twin-engine F-15 fighter. It features state-of-the-art upgrades with fly-by-wire controls, digital cockpit displays, advanced avionics, and the Eagle Passive/Active Warning and Survivability System (EPAWSS). The Eagle II also utilizes an open mission systems (OMS) design with a high-speed optical bus – a digital backbone that will allow for the rapid insertion of new and future capabilities.
Designed to replace F-15C/D aircraft, which have been in service for more than thirty years, the F-15EX capitalizes on more than $5 billion in recent Foreign Military Sales and United States Air Force investments.
The contract included seven additional options for the purchase of a most-probable quantity of 329 engines with the final delivery occurring in 2031. According to the Air Force, over the next ten years, those projected deliveries will support the production of 136 F-15EX aircraft to meet the service's projected demand.
"We are honored to help the U.S. Air Force open a new chapter by providing reliable F110 power for the F-15EX," said Shawn Warren, GE's vice president and general manager of combat and trainer engines. "The F110 production line is active today and ready to deliver on the U.S. Air Force’s urgent and compelling requirement for an F-15EX propulsion system. We're pleased with the engine's performance on the two F-15EX test aircraft flying today, and we’re excited to bring that performance to the entire planned fleet."
The General Electric GE Edison Works F110-GE-129 engine remains the only engine tested and integrated on the fly-by-wire F-15EX. In 2014, GE began investing resources and made a long-term commitment to become qualified on the Advanced F-15.
"GE has significant experience and expertise in aircraft integration, which it accomplished with Boeing through technology and software upgrades, software version changes, and enhancements in F110 performance and durability," the company stated.
The current F110 engine also has benefited from decades of continuous technology investment and has more than three decades of operational experience. To date, more than 3,400 F110 engines have been delivered worldwide, accruing over 10.5 million engine flight hours. The engine powers every new production F-15 ordered in the past decade, as well as nearly 70 percent of the most advanced U.S. Air Force F-16C/D aircraft.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.