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As India Scrutinizes F-15EX Fighter Jets, Top Official Says US Relying On Saudi & Qatar For Its Development

The F-15s have been one of the most reliable jets for the US Air Force, however, the rate at which the US is buying new fighter jets is not fast enough to replace its existing fleet, which has been in service for more than a quarter-century, a top US Air Force official said.

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“We are not buying fighters fast enough that are falling off due to age”, Lt. Gen. David Nahom, US Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Planning and Programs said in a congressional hearing last week. 

According to reports, 44 percent of Air Force fighter jets have been flying beyond their initial service life.

Nahom told a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on Navy and Air Force weapons systems divestments that the US Air Force Fleet had an average of 28 years of service, the oldest of any service.

This also included the F-15C jet, which flew nearly half a century ago in 1972.

“Many of them were reaching a point where they could no longer be renewed for more service”, he added.

“In the modernized F-15X, we are benefiting from billions of dollars of Saudi and Qatari investment into that platform for future warfare defense of the homeland and carry outsize weapons we’ve got to get these units”, Nahom said, as reported by Sputnik News Agency.

The Boeing F-15EX. (Image: Boeing)

“However, F-15C jets were now flying far too long beyond their initial service life”, he added.

In March, the US Air Force received its first delivery of the F-15EX fighter. It is also said that the Air Force was all set to commence the testing of this hypersonic-capable aircraft in Florida.

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“With its large weapons capacity, digital backbone, and open architecture, the F-15EX will be a key element of our tactical fighter fleet and complement 5th-generation assets. In addition, it’s capable of carrying hypersonic weapons, giving it a niche role in future near-peer conflicts”, Col. Sean Dorey of the USAF said.

The aircraft was delivered on March 10 by Boeing’s St. Louis facility and the Air Force was supposed to start testing it at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. A second F-15EX was delivered at the Eglin Air Force Base in early April in 2021, before the delivery of six more in the fiscal year 2023.

The service plans to acquire 144 F-15EXs in its bid to replace the aging F-15 fleet.

F-15EX (Image: Boeing)

The US Air Force signed a $1.2 billion contract with Boeing in July for building the first eight fighter jets that are capable of carrying more weapons in comparison to any other fighter jet in its class and also launching hypersonic weapons weighing up to 7000 pounds (3.5 tonnes).

Boeing’s Offer To India

As The EurAsian Times previously reported, Boeing had also offered the F-15EX fighter jet to India.

Why F-15EX Is A Better Option Than F-35 Stealth Jets For The Indian Air Force?

Amid threats from China and Pakistan, India needs its modern fighters to have substantial fuel tanks to fly for longer hours, so that they did not have to return to their base for refueling.

The F-15EX fulfills this requirement; it is also capable of striking deep into the territories of western neighbors such as Pakistan.

F-15EX (Image: Boeing)

According to experts, the F-35 might offer some stealth abilities, but India doesn’t need stealth when it comes to its neighborhood and instead requires an air dominance jet that can dominate the Asian skies.

Another advantage is that the F-15EX fighter’s heavy engine capacities would make it more suitable to operate in the high-altitude regions of Ladakh, something India requires to counter China in the Himalayas.

— Written by Kashish Tandon, with inputs from Sputnik

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