Boeing to offer F-15EX fighter to India, will have two aircraft in contest - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Wednesday 12 February 2020

Boeing to offer F-15EX fighter to India, will have two aircraft in contest

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 13th Feb 20

Seven of the world’s premier fighter aircraft are already competing in the Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) global tender for 114 medium fighters. There could soon be an eighth: the F-15EX fighter, developed for the US Air Force (USAF) by The Boeing Company.

On Wednesday, Boeing confirmed to aviation magazine FlightGlobal that it has asked the US government for sanction to offer the IAF its F-15EX.

“While awaiting further definition on the Indian Air Force’s requirements, we have requested a license for the F-15 so that we’re ready to share the full spectrum of potential solutions across our fighter portfolio when appropriate,” stated Boeing to FlightGlobal.

Boeing would thus be fielding two fighter aircraft in this tender. It has already offered its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter in response to a “Request for Information” (RFI) the IAF floated last year.

Boeing has also offered the Super Hornet in response to a separate RFI the Indian Navy floated for 57 fighters, to be flown off its aircraft carriers. 

“We continue to offer the F/A-18 Super Hornet to both the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force, and our F-15 is experiencing a resurgence in interest in the US and around the world,” stated Boeing to FlightGlobal.

Boeing has requested a licence in order to be able to share details of the F-15EX with Indian officials. This is a mandatory requirement under the US government’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

The other fighter manufacturers that have responded to the IAF’s RFI include: Lockheed Martin, with its single-engined F-21; Saab with its single-engined Gripen E/F, Dassault with its twin-engined Rafale, Eurofighter GmbH with its twin-engined Typhoon, and Russia with two twin-engined fighters: RAC MiG-35 and Sukhoi Su-35.

The IAF’s procurement of 114 fighters follows the cancellation in 2015 of its 2007 tender for 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), and the purchase of 36 Rafale fighters in 2016. Short of numbers, the IAF has launched the procurement of 114 medium fighters in an exercise that closely mirrors the MMRCA tender.

The F-15 Eagle programme, like that of the F-18 Hornet, dates back decades. However, Boeing has developed futuristic versions of both fighters for the decades ahead. The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is slated to equip US Navy carriers into the 2040s, while the F-15EX (which is still to be named), will provide the USAF with multi-role capability during this period.

The F-15 Eagle, which is flown by several air forces, including that of Israel, has a formidable air-to-air combat record of 104-0. Along the way, Boeing developed a ground strike version called the Strike Eagle. Now, equipped with a new cockpit, airborne electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, integrated electronic warfare suite and fused sensors and data links, the F-15EX is a multi-role fighter capable of the full range of missions.

Capable of flying at Mach 2.5 (two-and-a-half times the speed of sound), the F-15EX is the world’s fastest fighter aircraft. It carries 13.5 tonnes of weapons load, more than the Rafale or the Sukhoi-30MKI. And with a range of 1,000 nautical miles (1,850 kilometres), it can strike targets deep inside enemy territory.

Based on publicly available US budget figures, the F-15EX costs $80.3 million per fighter. The cost of the twin engines and armament could be half that again. However, building the aircraft in India, which involves setting up and certifying a new factory and training workers could take that up significantly, as would adding the cost of spares and weaponry.


  1. So we have gone from, in the space of around two decades the MRCA - light fighters only, to MMRCA, ostensibly Medium but also including Light, to H-MRCA with the Su-35 and F-15EX battling it out as well!

    The F-15EX for all its multi role positioning primarily is a strike fighter meant to hit deep in a high threat environment. Its operating costs will be higher than a Rafale, so how much premium is the IAF willing to pay for a specific mission?

    Also since this becomes a hot button issue for Indians (unnecesarily), a point of fact the F-15EX being heavily derived from variants operated by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, means the PAF will have "first hand" knowledge of its capabilities.

  2. Great! Another H-MRCA to complement the Su-30MKI H-MRCAs!

  3. We should have Make in India only for indigenous fighters like all Tejas variants and AMCA. Setting up plants for foreign fighters with a limited production run is more expensive and time consuming. Not to mention the difference in quality if a DPSU is involved.

  4. Rafale would be cheaper as TRAINING R&D and logistics cost have already been factored for.

    Just to please Donald Trump we must not fiddle with our requirements and single engine aircraft is our prime requirement while heavy weight category is taken care by sukhois

    US WOULD also have various transfer of technology and end user ristrictions


  5. Our recently retired CAS keeps saying Rafale this, Rafale that. Why not just get them?

    We who already have close to 400 4th Gen aircraft in our inventory (including Navy) and reportedly the best air-superiority aircraft in Asia but where were they when it mattered? It does not matter what we get, the best will be kept in the hinterland, for fear of PAF doing what PAF does best. Ps. they have close to 200 4th Gen aircraft but with higher serviceability and pilot ratio.

    The failure is in our leadership, thinking pakistanis, think like us. Well they don't, ask the Americans (or anyone who has fought them even personally). Pakistanis, regardless always take revenge and won't back off because on paper we look superior.

    I wonder what happened to those ready made analysts who thought we would have air supremacy over Pak in 2-weeks or that PAF will run away to Afghanistan to save their aircraft. This is what happens when you start believing your own propaganda. Shambles.


    1. True , the issue is the airforce will buy expensive toys and hide them in hinterlands. No one asks where the su30s were wen f16s showed up!

  6. The PLUS side is, if we do get this, it will scare the living day light out of the PLAAF. This is a beast of an aircraft. PAF already will know how to handle it, through their exercises with USA, RSAF and soon RQAF.

    It also allows Modi to please Trumph. Being seen to be subservient is a quality Trumph admires has it shows him off (Trump) with manly qualities.

    I hope we have some big Jatts in the pictures with Trumph and his team, otherwise all we will show-off are scrawny, semi-invalids, old, short, fat and toady (gujju) looks. Not good for our image.


  7. Boeing must be 1000 different kinds of stupid. No one in India MoD asked for F015EX, though I'm sure that the fighter mafia will demand that Tejas and MWF must now do better than the F-15EX in terms of range, combat load, radar performance etc, the morons.

  8. F15 is a heavy fighter similar to SU30MKI.
    The fact all fighters from Grippen to SU35 to now F15 competing shows IAF has not applied its mind when making requirements.
    Can we afford so many heavy planes or even 2 engine fighters ?
    Ideally buy, 40 more Rafales, 21 MiG29 & 18 SU 30MKI.
    No need for any more MMRCA contests.

    Then go in for 120 Tejas Mk1A, equipped with stand off weapons.
    Hope the gun trials occur soon, else a shame that gun is not tested 18 years after first flight.

    We should also go for smaller air refuelling planes in larger numbers.
    They can operate in parallel to fuel more planes. Less expensive than A330.
    Maybe Hercules c130 will do a fine job here.

  9. Why think of other than rafale when India specific enhancements r&d cost and logistics cost is non-recurring. If not 114 fighters then atleast buy 72 or more as jaguar will retire soon retire without engine upgrade and stick with tejas.


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