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USAF chief outlines F-15EX buy decision as part of fighter mix

The F-15EX is part of General Brown's β€œ4+1β€œ fighter fleet force structure. (US Air Force)

US Air Force (USAF) Chief of Staff General Charles Brown said that the decision making regarding the right mix of Boeing F-15EX Eagle II and other fighter jets is part of a balancing act and he is having discussions with Congress on the matter.

β€œOn the force structure piece, this is where we looked at a balance of capability and capacity,” Gen Brown said at a Hudson Institute talk on 22 June. β€œNot only the F-15EX, what I try not to do is just focus on one particular platform. It's the mix of platforms, it's the things we're trying to get done.”

Originally the USAF planned to acquire at least 144 F-15EX jets to replace its F-15C/D models. However, the service scaled that back to 80 in its latest budget request.

Gen Brown said he has been in discussions with lawmakers on figuring out the right mix of lower-end and high-end capabilities such as stealthy aircraft.

β€œWe know what capabilities we want to have. What is the right mix? What are the right weapons to go with it?,” he said.

The decision on which fighter jets to buy is part of the service's plan to cut its tactical air fleet from seven platform types to around four in what Gen Brown calls the β€œ4+1” initiative. The plan would include the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II close air support (CAS) aircraft and a fighter from the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) platform, the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), the F-15EX, and the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon.

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