Boeing's F-15EX Eagle II: The Perfect Fighter Jet for Taiwan to Battle China

F-15EX Eagle II
March 1, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: F-15EXF-15EX Eagle IIBoeingMilitaryDefenseChina Taiwan

Boeing's F-15EX Eagle II: The Perfect Fighter Jet for Taiwan to Battle China

Amid rising tensions between the United States and China, particularly over Taiwan, the deployment of F-15EX Eagle II fighter jets to Taiwan is proposed as a critical measure to enhance the island's air defense capabilities.


Summary: Amid rising tensions between the United States and China, particularly over Taiwan, the deployment of F-15EX Eagle II fighter jets to Taiwan is proposed as a critical measure to enhance the island's air defense capabilities. As China aims to assert dominance in the Indo-Pacific and potentially invade Taiwan, the F-15EX, with its advanced dogfighting and interception capabilities, offers a pragmatic solution to counter China's J-20 stealth fighters. While not a fifth-generation fighter, the F-15EX's superior engine power, payload capacity, and close-range combat effectiveness make it a valuable asset for Taiwan's defense strategy against a formidable Chinese air assault.

F-15EX Eagle II: Taiwan's Potential Trump Card Against China's J-20

The United States is increasingly at risk of finding itself in a shooting war with the world’s second-largest economy (in GDP terms), the People’s Republic of China. The likely flashpoint will be over the fate of democratic Taiwan. Beijing has long held that Taiwan is merely a breakaway province in need of being brought back under China’s control. 


And that means we need to rethink about what arms Taiwan needs. One idea would be to send the F-15EX Eagle II to Taipei. 

The Strategic View: China vs. Taiwan 

The context here is key. Basically, the US government believes that Taiwan should be treated as a quasi-independent territory. While there are historical resentments driving both the Chinese and Taiwanese to take the positions they are taking on the matter of Taiwan’s independence, the real factor at play is classic geopolitics. 

China has determined that it must dominate the Indo-Pacific. In order to achieve this goal, China’s military must push the US military far beyond the horizon. Therefore, China must dominate the three island chains separating its shores from the Hawaiian Islands. Taiwan forms the lynchpin of the First Island Chain. So long as Taipei is aligned with Washington, the embattled island democracy can serve as an “unsinkable aircraft carrier.” 

But if America’s influence were to be removed from Taiwan by China capturing the nearby island, Beijing will have sealed its near-abroad. From a Sinocentric Taiwan, Chinese forces could branch out, applying pressure to nearby Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines much more than they presently are. More importantly, China could push their power projection into the outlying Second and Third Island Chains with very little resistance.

Make no mistake: China’s Xi Jinping will risk a major war to achieve these radical geopolitical goals. In fact, many experts, such as this author, believe that Beijing will initiate its invasion of Taiwan either in the Spring or Fall of this year. Thus, there is little time for the Americans and their partners to implement reliable strategies for either the defense of Taiwan or the deterrence of China. 

The F-15EX Eagle II Is Key for Defending Taiwan

A key element of defending Taiwan will be in the number of warplanes the island has at its disposal. In an ideal world, the United States would have enough Fifth-Generation warplanes (such as the F-22 Raptor and the F-35) to counter any Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Sadly, this is not a reality. These systems are far too expensive and, in the case of the F-22, there simply is not enough of these warplanes to go around (the production line was eviscerated by former President Barack Obama during his first year in office). 

The Americans do, however, have a bunch of upgraded F-15EX Eagle IIs that they’ve been deploying as a stopgap in the face of declining defense budgets and cost overruns with both major Fifth-Generation warplanes. China will either blockade the island soon to strangle it and/or launch a lightning invasion meant to decapitate the island’s leadership and sow so much chaos and destruction on Taiwan that the Americans have little time to react or that the Taiwanese simply give up any hope for effectively stopping China from having its way with Taiwan.

An air war over Taiwan will be a key element of any Chinese invasion of Taiwan. 

China, like the United States, has an arsenal of Fifth-Generation Warplanes, known as the J-20. According to many experts, this is a serious challenger for air supremacy—especially when matched against the Fourth-Generation warplanes that Taiwan has for its defense (and of these planes, there is unlikely enough of them to hold off whatever the Chinese are planning indefinitely). 

The F-15 is still considered the greatest dogfighting warplane in US history. If squared off against China’s J-20, the Chinese stealth warplane would enjoy considerable technological advantages over any Fourth-Generation warplane, such as the F-15EX Eagle II. But we need to think a little more broadly. 

The F-15EX Eagle II vs. China's J-20: A Fair Fight?

The J-20 can operate undercover since it is a stealth plane. This is a capability that the J-20 has already demonstrated in the skies around Taiwan. The Chinese Fifth-Generation warplane can also engage enemy fighters (while remaining invisible) over longer ranges. Yet, the J-20s engines are considered to be weak for an aircraft of its class. Meanwhile, the F-15EX Eagle II has potent engines that allow for maximum thrust in a short amount of time. The F-15EX Eagle II is a powerful dogfighter and interceptor craft—just the sort of warplane that would be needed to stymie a Chinese air attack on Taiwan.

At closer ranges, too, the F-15EX Eagle II would have decisive advantages over the J-20, not least because the F-15EX Eagle II possesses a dangerous Gatling gun, whereas the J-20 lacks such a capability. Plus, the F-15EX Eagle II variant has a greater payload capability than previous models of the F-15, meaning it can carry more missiles. 

The J-20 would inevitably have to engage in attacks close to Taiwan’s shores, giving the F-15EX Eagle II, if it were based on Taiwan, a real shot at overcoming whatever advantages the J-20 possesses on paper. 

For those in Washington and Taipei who fear that China is readying to blitz the bejesus out of Taiwan soon, selling the F-15EX Eagle II to Taiwan might be as important for the aerial defense of Taiwan as was the British government’s decision to invest heavily in building the Supermarine Spitfire fighter planes that proved so helpful during the Battle of Britain in the Second World War. 

The F-15EX Eagle II is a Defensive Powerhouse

To be clear: these Fourth-Generation warplanes would be next-to-useless as offensive systems directed against fortified Chinese positions (they would be torn apart by the Russian-built S-300 and S-400 air defense systems that China possesses in large numbers). But as a weapon of defense against a Chinese attack on Taiwan, the F-15EX Eagle II would be essential for Taiwan’s defense. Further, these systems are cheaper and easier to maintain (and replace) compared to the more expensive Fifth-Generation warplanes. 

Thus, the F-15EX Eagle II is a necessary weapon that might save Taiwan from total defeat in an air war with China.

About the Author 

Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life, and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy. Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.