GLOBAL DEFENSE MARKET
DUBAI AIRSHOW NEWS: Boeing Pitching F-15EX to International Customers
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Boeing is actively pitching the U.S. Air Force’s new F-15EX to international customers by highlighting a host of new features.
The F-15EX boasts increased weapons capacity, next-generation survivability and a modern software infrastructure, and the world is taking notice, executives said.
Boeing has already signed a memorandum of understanding with Indonesia for 24 aircraft and is currently in talks with Poland, who have asked for 32, Rob Novotny, executive director of F-15 Business Development for Boeing said during a media briefing at the Dubai Airshow Nov. 13.
As Boeing continues to eye international customers, its expanding footprint has also meant adjusting to a broader customer base. One of the aircraft’s defining upgrades is its electronic warfare system, and fitting it to international customers means it will get them own configurations.
Boeing describes the electronic warfare suite, or the Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System, as redefining how to achieve and maintain a state of low detectability. Novotny said the system will “change the discussion about what [it means] to operate in an enemy air defense sector.”
“So for years we've thought about operating within … enemy air defenses based on shapes and material coatings,” he said. “[Electronic Warfare] has been a … part of that and most of those platforms couldn't do it without some level of [electronic warfare].”
The F-15EX’s electronic warfare system “is going to change that discussion completely,” he said. “The results are going to be that we're going to have a living adaptive [electronic warfare] system that is going to change as fast, if not faster, than the threat, and it's not going to come with the restricted things that shapes and … materials come with.”
And international customers are going to want it, he said.
The electronic warfare system’s international configuration was sparked by a contract Boeing recently signed with Japanese Self-Defense Forces, allowing Boeing to “expand the electronic warfare system into an international configuration,” Mark Sears, vice president and program manager for the Boeing Fighters Air Dominance Program, said.
The international configuration “is really more about an obsolescence redesign than it is anything you need for the international customer,” Sears said. “All international configurations do have slight variations. So there is some development work there. But it's mostly about obsolescence.”
Novotny said any international customers interested in flying the F-15EX “[are] interested in either some kind of modernization plan — we’re having those conversations — or depending on the state of their fleet, all new builds. All of those conversations are ongoing.”
Novotny said Japan and Korea are “very interested” in the F-15EX’s cockpit changes, for example. The F-15EX will feature a “whole new cockpit setup,” he said. “Essentially a singular piece of glass called the large area display that allows you to touch that, completely night vision capable, totally resilient.”
In regards to talks with Israel, he said “there is a lot of deference right now … given the situation. So we're not talking right now.”
According to a Boeing fact sheet, F-15EX design had allies and partners in mind all along. It says it is “designed for interoperability within the joint force,” and Boeing is marketing it as such. “With the next-generation capability it brings to the warfighter, global allies will have access to the latest technology and allied interoperability capability within their fleet,” the fact sheet read.
Given the international interest in the aircraft, production could ramp up, as well. Sears said their ability to keep up with additional orders on top of their Air Force commission could depend on the timing. They are currently on a schedule for one and half units per month, “and we are accelerating to two units per month in 2025,” Novotny said.
Sears said depending on when international partners are looking to buy and what delivery profile that would look like, they may need to evaluate having to go beyond two per month, but likely not til the “tail end of this decade.”
For now, the Air Force has awarded lots 1, 2, 3 and 4 for F-15EXs, as well as advanced procurement for a lot 5, Novotny said. “As so we see a long production run out into 2027, 2028 already contracted by the U.S. Air Force.”
Flyaway costs are expected to be between $94 million to $97 million per aircraft, according to the Air Force.
The F-15EX had its first flight earlier this month and “we have four … EX jets that are on the flight ramp to deliver this year still,” he said.
The Air Force’s current program of record is sitting at 104 through fiscal year 2025, Sears said. “But that is constantly in evaluation.”