September 25, 2012
Credit: Credit: U.S. Air Force
The U.S. Air Force is pushing to more than double the life of its stalwart F-15 Eagles with a series of upgrades.
“About two and a half years ago, the U.S. Air Force wanted fatigue tests on C models,” says Brad Jones, F-15 mission systems director for Boeing, which makes the aircraft.
As the F-15 fleet aircraft approached their life expectancies for total flight hours, the Air Force wanted see how far the service could delay fleet retirements, Jones said during a recent briefing with reporters.
The design service life for the aircraft is 8,000 flight hours and the lead-the-fleet aircraft have flown more than 10,000 actual flight hours and counting, Boeing says.
Boeing is now working on full-scale fatigue test certifications to push F-15C/D models to 18,000 equivalent flight hours (EFHs) and F-15E models to 32,000 EHFs. “Structural fatigue improvements in current-production F-15s provide longer life and reduced maintenance requirements,” Boeing says.
“We do not have an end date for the F-15,” Jones says. Indeed, he says, there are several programs to make U.S. and international models better with age.
The F-15 radar modernization program proposes to retrofit all F-15Es by 2021 with APG-82(V)1 suites with APG-79 processors, which will offer a fivefold improvement over the APG-63(V)3 equipment in reliability and effectiveness. The initial operational capability for the radar work is early 2014.
The Advanced Display/Core Processor II (ADCP II) program will replace all the computers in U.S. F-15Es and serve as the baseline computer for all future aircraft sales. The new computers increase computing power, adding additional gigabit Ethernet and fiber channel connections, with a Milestone B decision scheduled in November. “The U.S. Air Force has a display upgrade working team up now,” Jones says.