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Air Platforms

Pentagon budget 2020: DoD eyes buying 144 total F-15EXs over time

12 March 2019
The USAF wants to buy 48 F-35As in FY 2020 while also buying 8 F-15EXs. Source: USAF

Key Points

  • The US Air Force plans to buy eight F-15EX aircraft in FY 2020
  • The service wants to buy 144 F-15EXs over time to help lower its average fighter aircraft age

The Pentagon wants to buy eight Boeing F-15EX fighters in fiscal year 2020 (FY 2020) as part of a planned buy of 144 total aircraft over an unspecified number of years to refresh the F-15C/D and F-15E fleet, according to the Pentagon's FY 2020 budget request.

The Department of Defense is requesting USD1.1 billion for F-15EX procurement in FY 2020 while requesting USD949 million for F-15 upgrades. The US Air Force (USAF), in FY 2020, would continue the F-15E radar modernisation programme (RMP) and the F-15C/D radar upgrade programme through FY 2021. The USAF wants to drive down the average age of its fighters as it prepares for competition against peers such as China or Russia.

The Pentagon requested 78 Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs), down from the 93 provided in FY 2019. Forty-eight of those will be USAF F-35A conventional variants, eight less than provided in FY 2019. Ten of those will be US Marine Corps (USMC) F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) models while 20 will be US Navy (USN) F-35C aircraft carrier variants.

Dan Grazier, military fellow with the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) watchdog group in Washington, DC, told Jane's on 12 March that he believes the USAF's F-15EX buy shows that confidence is waning among Pentagon leadership in the F-35 programme. Grazier said this timing is curious as the F-35 programme is in the middle of initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) with a full rate production (FRP) decision expected in the next year or so.

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