Boeing F-15SE Silent Eagle
|F-15SE Silent Eagle|
|Role||Multi-role fighter/strike fighter|
|First flight||demonstrator aircraft: 8 July 2010|
|Number built||1 demonstrator|
|Developed from||F-15E Strike Eagle|
Design and development
On 17 March 2009, Boeing first displayed a F-15SE demonstrator. The F-15SE was designed to use fifth-generation fighter technology, such as radar-absorbing materials, to significantly reduce its radar cross-section (RCS). It would have possessed a level of stealth that the U.S. government would have allowed for export, being optimized for air-to-air missions (against X-band radars) and much less effective against ground radars (which use other frequencies). Different levels of RCS reduction were studied, and Boeing stated that this stealth will only be in the range of fifth-generation aircraft such as the F-35 Lightning II from the frontal aspect.
Unique features to the F-15SE were the conformal weapons bays (CWB) that would have replaced the conformal fuel tanks (CFT) to hold weapons internally – thus reducing fuel capacity – and the twin vertical tails canted outward 15° to reduce RCS. Weapons can also be carried externally on hardpoints under each wing. New build F-15SEs were to be lighter and more fuel efficient than Strike Eagle conversions due to the canted tails, fly-by-wire controls, and digital electronic warfare equipment; enabling two additional weapons stations on the wings. The aircraft was to have a Raytheon active electronically scanned array radar, and a new BAE Systems EW system.
In March 2009, Boeing formally launched the F-15SE for international sales; it was aimed at F-15 users such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and South Korea. Boeing estimated the unit cost as approximately US$100 million, including spares and support; its lower cost compared to fifth generation fighters was intended to appeal to the export market. In 2009, Boeing began tentative talks with South Korea over the Silent Eagle, but was unable to market it to international customers without an export license from the US government. Boeing filed for an export license in early 2010, and received it in July 2010. In August 2010, clearance was granted to export the F-15SE's RCS treatments and EW suite to South Korea.
During August and September 2009, Boeing evaluated an F-15E with different radar absorbent coatings to select a coating. The first production F-15E (86-0183) was modified to the F-15E1 configuration to serve as a demonstrator. It first flew on 8 July 2010 with a left-side CWB, and on 20 July 2010 launched an AMRAAM from a CWB.
Seeking partners and sales
Boeing sought other companies to be risk-sharing partners to reduce development costs. In November 2010, Boeing signed an agreement with Korea Aerospace Industries for KAI to design and manufacture the F-15SE's CWB. KAI had previously produced wings and forward fuselages for F-15K and F-15SG. On January 2012, The Korea Times reported that only 10% of the design work on the CWB had been completed, and that development of the canted vertical tails had been suspended in 2010. However, Boeing had stated that development continued with scale model wind tunnel tests scheduled for spring 2012.
Israel held several discussions over the F-15SE as an alternative to the F-35 Lightning II. In August 2010, Israel opted to buy the F-35. In 2015, Israel requested a squadron of F-15s based on the Silent Eagle standard.
In South Korea's F-X III fighter program, the F-15SE was bid against the F-35 and Eurofighter Typhoon. Existing F-15s were used for a fly-off against the Typhoon, and an F-35 flight simulator. On 18 August 2013, the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced that the F-15SE as the only remaining candidate; the F-35 being too costly and the Typhoon disqualified for bidding flaws. On 24 September 2013, the defense ministry rejected the award, saying that a new competition would be held. On 22 November 2013, it was reported that South Korea will purchase the F-35A. Boeing had shifted from the F-15SE to the "Advanced F-15".
Basic specifications listed are for the F-15E Strike Eagle, on which the F-15SE is based.
- Crew: 2
- Length: 63.8 ft (19.43 m)
- Wingspan: 42.8 ft (13.05 m)
- Height: 18.5 ft (5.63 m)
- Wing area: 608 ft² (56.5 m²)
- Airfoil: NACA 64A006.6 root, NACA 64A203 tip
- Empty weight: 31,700 lb (14,300 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 81,000 lb (36,700 kg)
- Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney F100-229 afterburning turbofans
- Dry thrust: 17800 lbf (79 kN) each
- Thrust with afterburner: 29,000 lbf (129 kN) each
- Maximum speed: Mach 2.5+ (1,650+ mph, 2,650+ km/h)
- Combat radius: 800+ nm (720 nmi for stealth A/A mission) (920 miles (1,480 kilometres))
- Ferry range: 2,400 mi (2,100 nmi (3,900 km)) with conformal fuel tank and three external fuel tanks
- Service ceiling: 60,000 ft (18,200 m)
- Rate of climb: 50,000+ ft/min (254+ m/s)
- 1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M61 Vulcan 6-barreled Gatling cannon with 510 rounds of ammunition
- Four internal hardpoints in conformal weapons bays for low-observable capability, or
- External load the same as Strike Eagle's with standard CFTs, including targeting pods and additional external fuel tanks.
- APG-82 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar
- BAE Systems Digital Electronic warfare system (DEWS)
- Digital "Fly-by-Wire" Flight Control System (DFCS)
- Lockheed Martin Sniper advanced electro-optical targeting system and Infrared Search and Track (IRST) system
- Link-16 fighter data link
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
- Dassault Rafale
- Eurofighter Typhoon
- Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II
- Mikoyan MiG-35
- Sukhoi Su-57
- Shenyang J-11D
- Shenyang J-16
- Sukhoi Su-35S
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