GE Aviation delivered the first of 19 engines that will power the initial eight models of Boeing’s F-15EX advanced Eagle, which will begin combined developmental and operational tests at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., early next year, the company said Sept. 16.
The powerplant is being delivered under a contract from the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center earlier this year for 19 F110-GE-129 engines, including installs and spares. Each F-15EX will have two engines.
The contract was the first engine lot to be awarded in support of the F-15EX, and it was a sole-source award to speed the initial jets into test. However, the Air Force has decided to allow Raytheon Technologies’ Pratt & Whitney to offer a version of its F100 engine for the type, under the proviso that Pratt certifies and tests its engine for the EX at its own expense. Pratt has said it plans to compete for subsequent lots of F-15EX powerplants.
The Air Force has open-ended contracts for up to 200 F-15EX fighters, although it has not suggested it will buy more than 144 of the fighters. The jets would be acquired before 2035. The Air Force in May said it would need 461 engines for the F-15EX fleet.
The Air Force is trying to adapt the EX with as little change as possible from Boeing’s export model of the Eagle for Qatar, the F-15QA, in order to reduce development and testing time and accelerate its fielding to replace aged F-15Cs, which are structurally fatigued and performance-limited. The GE engine is “the only engine tested, integrated, and certified for the fly-by-wire F-15EX,” the company said, and powers other late-model export versions of the Eagle.
Compared with the F-15C, which the Air Force has operated since the 1980s, the EX has a fly-by-wire flight control system, a powerful processor, additional weapon stations, and will employ the Eagle Passive Active Warning and Survivability System (EPAWSS), among other improvements. The jet is also to have an open missions systems architecture to facilitate rapid and competitive upgrades.