Boeing is offering to expedite deliveries of F-15EX Advanced Eagle combat aircraft to the US Air Force (USAF) by two years, should the service request it.
Speaking at the company's St Louis facility in Missouri, Prat Kumar, Boeing's vice-president and programme manager for the F-15 programme, said that with a live Advanced Eagle production line already running for Saudi Arabia and shortly for Qatar, Boeing could deliver the first aircraft to the USAF "early next year", rather than in 2022 as the service has previously stated.
"We could start deliveries in early 2020 if the USAF decides. It is the difference between the USAF planning documents, which are conservative, and what is possible," Kumar told reporters on 14 May.
The USAF requested an initial eight F-15EXs in its fiscal year 2020 (FY 2020) budget request and is expected to request 18 aircraft annually from FY 2021-24. The air force said the USD1.1 billion it requested in FY 2020 for the F-15EX would also procure associated production factory tooling, systems integration laboratory equipment, technical orders, and support equipment.
In terms of the current F-15 production line, Boeing expects to finish delivering the last of 84 F-15SAs to Saudi Arabia by the end of this year, at which time deliveries of 36 F-15QAs to Qatar will commence. With the line currently set up to build 12 aircraft a year, production is set to run through to 2023 with current orders, although Kumar noted that Qatar has options for 72 aircraft and that there are opportunities with other potential customers, including Israel, to extend the line further.
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