May 01, 2019
F-15EX vs. F-35A
BY JOHN A. TIRPAK
Check out Air Force Magazine's comprehensive infographic to learn how the F-35A and F-15EX stack up against each other when it comes to production costs, performance, fuel capacity, service life, and more.
The F-35 Lightning has been the Air Force’s sole new fighter program since 2009, when the F-22 Raptor program was prematurely terminated. While behind schedule, the program has been a top Air Force priority for more than a decade and until recently, was expected to remain USAF’s only fighter program until a future capability, still undefined, comes online.
Now the F-35 faces a new challenge from an old jet design, a variant of the F-15 Strike Eagle; an airplane from an earlier era, built for a different mission. Though the Air Force denies it, the two jets are competing for inevitably limited dollars within the service’s fighter portfolio.
The Air Force’s fiscal 2020 budget request includes $1.1 billion to buy the first eight of a planned 144 F-15EX aircraft. The new airplanes are very similar to the export versions now being built for Qatar. The F-15EX is a two-seat fighter that can be flown by one or two aviators and is meant to replace F-15Cs and Ds that are reaching the end of their service lives.