The Air Force’s F-15E fighter is still a formidable weapon system and will remain so for decades, says Gen. Norton Schwartz, Chief of Staff. “I have an appreciation for what happens in that airplane and admiration as well,” Schwartz the Goldsboro News Argus, in a Nov. 23 report. The North Carolina newspaper covers the F-15E Strike Eagles of the 4th Fighter Wing at nearby Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. Schwartz told the News Argus that the versatile F-15E is being used “to great effect” in Southwest Asia today. “It has all the qualities you would want in an advanced platform,” with its ability to strike ground targets precisely, collect intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance information, or even scare away the enemy via its sheer presence, he said. According to Air Force data provided to the Daily Report, there are 223 F-15Es in the fleet. As of Aug. 31, they had an average age of 16.4 years and an average of 4,775 average flying hours on them. The oldest Strike Eagle entered the fleet in August 1987, while the newest joined the inventory in September 2004. Air Force officials have said they envision operating F-15Es out to about 2035. Major upgrades are underway to keep the aircraft viable. For example, the Air Force last month awarded Boeing a major contract for the development and integration phase of the new advanced electronically steered array radar for the F-15E. Raytheon builds this sophisticated radar, which is expected to be operational on the first F-15E unit before the middle of next decade.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.