After publishing A ‘Stealth’ Showdown in South Korea, which detailed the various aircraft vying for South Korea's FX-III prize, we were flooded with questions regarding the various competitors. We have reached out to Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Eurofighter to answer the most popular questions you asked over email, social media, and our comments board.
The Diplomat's Harry Kazianis spoke with Boeing's F-X Campaign Director Howard Berry regarding the F-15 Silent Eagle.
(Editor's Note: We are awaiting replies from Lockheed Martin and Eurofighter.)
1. The Diplomat recently ran a featured story concerning South Korea's FX-III fighter competition. Our readers were very excited concerning the entry of Boeing's F-15 Silent Eagle fighter. We received multiple emails, comments and requests for more information. One of the more repeated questions was a history of the Silent Eagle project. Obviously there is linkage to original F-15. How did the program come about? What are some of the goals of the program? How similar is the Silent Eagle to older versions of the F-15?
The Silent Eagle was designed in response to the needs expressed by current international F-15 operators. Silent Eagle builds on a continuous evolution of capability in the combat-proven F-15 family of aircraft with a bundle of additional advancements that allow us to offer a “2-Aircraft-in-1 Platform” solution that brings an unprecedented balance of survivability and lethality to meet customer needs in all phases of air combat.
2. The F-15 Silent Eagle obviously has some major competition from various competent and modern fighters such as the F-35 and the Eurofighter. In what ways does the F-15 SE stand out? How is the F-15 SE superior in your view to the competition?
Boeing’s progressive evolutionary-design approach positions us to offer our Republic of Korea customer a highly capable, yet low-risk and affordable Silent Eagle F-X solution on a schedule that will meet ROK requirements. From a capability perspective, what truly distinguishes Silent Eagle from every modern multi-role fighter in production today is its ability to have its airframe configuration tailored in the field thereby ensuring optimized performance of the aircraft in a wide array of missions. The platform can be flown in a stealthy configuration in the early days of a conflict when the battlespace is contested. Once airspace dominance has been achieved, the Silent Eagle can be flown in a configuration optimized for weapon payload capacity.
We have also offered a comprehensive offset package that addresses all of the ROK’s F-X priority areas including F-X Logistics, F-X Technology Transfer and F-X Parts Manufacture, as well as Technology Transfer to support Korea’s next-generation KF-X program. Boeing has been a partner to the Republic of Korea for more than a half century and in that time Korean industry has played a vital role across Boeing military and commercial airplane programs. We look forward to the opportunity a ROK Government acquisition of Silent Eagle would give us to further strengthen and extend the relationships as Korean industry continues its rapid advancement in the global aerospace and defense supply chain.
3. The F-15 SE is considered by many as a 4.5 generation fighter. It would compete presumably against a field of 5th generation fighters fielded by Russia, China and possibly others. How is Boeing preparing the Silent Eagle to compete against such airframes of the future?
I challenge you to define 5th generation. The definition seems to change on a daily basis, depending on who you’re talking to. We prefer not to use the generational distinction. Silent Eagle is designed to meet current and emerging customer requirements for improved survivability through enhanced situational awareness, stand-off weapons and reduced Radar Cross Section. Silent Eagle offers these capabilities and features via a mature, low-risk production program and in an affordable, proven aircraft type. The Silent Eagle has range, payload, and versatility advantages that others do not. Furthermore, we recognize that threats faced by Silent Eagle will continue to evolve in the decades ahead. Silent Eagle is uniquely capable in its growth potential given its excess capacity of payload, volume, cooling, power, computer memory and computer throughput thereby well positioning Silent Eagle for incorporation of new advanced systems over the life of its airframe.
4. What types of missions can the F-15 Silent Eagle be expected to perform? What do you consider the airplanes greatest strengths overall? How much is stealth an important asset to the airframe of the SE?
Silent Eagle is designed with advanced technologies that provide the warfighter an unprecedented ability to tailor the platform airframe to best meet the specific needs of the combat mission. For missions in highly-contested airspace requiring enhanced survivability, Silent Eagle can perform missions in its low-signature “silent” configuration. For combat missions requiring carriage of increased payloads, Silent Eagle can also fly with a traditional “heavy” weapons load that surpasses its contemporaries. Taking a balanced-survivability design approach, we have brought the requisite reduction in radar signature to thrive and survive in the Northeast Asian battlespace both today and for many decades to come while not trading away capabilities in the name of a single mission.
5. Consider the cost of a modern fighter jet, many governments investing in such a plane have expressed interests in upgradeability. Is the F-15 Silent Eagle capable of upgrades over its lifespan? What improvements over time could you see being integrated or being requested into the aircraft?
While nobody can predict the future, it is clear that those combat aircraft that can readily and affordably introduce new systems and capabilities will be best positioned to maintain a quality military edge over the ever-evolving threats. We have designed the Silent Eagle with that vision of evolutionary capability growth in mind. While numerous improved systems can be envisioned for the future, we believe that there is a high likelihood of continued advancements of sensor and weapon systems. With Silent Eagle’s designed-in growth capacity, its operators will be able to readily and affordably integrate such evolved systems.
6. Various versions of the F-15 have been deployed all over the world. As nations look at the cost of deploying newer versions of fighter aircraft, many governments have taken the path of upgrading their aircraft. Is there any option for current owners of the F-15 to upgrade to the capabilities of the Silent Eagle?
Boeing continually works with the U.S. Air Force and other F-15 customers looking at airframe and system upgrades that will ensure the F-15’s tactical relevance and airspace dominance. Silent Eagle brings a suite of capability elements to the F-15 aircraft. Many of these capability elements could be readily introduced into fielded F-15 aircraft currently in service around the globe.