Several ongoing modifications to other F-15 aircraft subsystems need to be accomplished before EPAWSS can be successfully installed on the aircraft. According to EPAWSS program officials, these predecessor modifications are on schedule to support EPAWSS. In addition, the Air Force now plans to procure EPAWSS for both the F-15C and F-15E after reporting last year that only the F-15E would be upgraded. As a result, the program increased its current cost estimate over the past year, but it is now in keeping with the first full estimate, which included both F-15 models.
(Source : GAO May 2019 Page 148 Weapons System Annual Assessment)
The U.S. Air Force may be unable to buy the
A draft version of the House Armed Services Committee’s defense authorization bill would permit the Air Force to procure
However, the bill proposal states that the remaining FY20 funding for the program will only be obligated after the Air Force submits details such as:
HASC follows its Senate counterpart and the House Appropriations Committee in releasing its defense budget proposal, and its approach on the F-15EX differs from both committees, which recommended full funding to purchase eight jets made by Boeing.
- The program acquisition strategy.
- A cost and schedule baseline for the program.
- A test and evaluation master plan.
- A life cycle sustainment plan.
- A post-production fielding strategy.
However, the limitations on the F-15EX are not set in stone. The House and Senate still must pass their respective versions of the defense authorization bill, and once that happens, lawmakers from both chambers will have to compromise on a final version of the legislation — which may not include this language.
Even if kept in, HASC’s provisions indicate some support for buying new F-15EX planes, and thus do not pose an existential threat to the program.
Air Force leaders have made clear that buying more F-15s is a budget-conscious choice that allows the service to replace existing "C" and "D" models that are reaching the end of their service lives.
One of the benefits to this approach, said Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mike Holmes, is that Air National Guard squadrons that get the F-15EX won’t have to go through a lengthy retraining period for pilots and maintainers to learn a completely new airframe.
“There’s more to think about than just the acquisition cost. There’s the cost to operate the airplane over time. There’s the cost to transition at the installations where the airplanes are — does it require new military construction, does it require extensive retraining of the people, and then how long does it take?” Holmes
House defense authorizers this week endorsed the Air Force’s decision to buy Boeing’s
HASC staff told reporters on June 3 they won’t approve further purchases until the Air Force submits the acquisition strategy and support information that typically accompanies major procurement programs.
"This section would require the Secretary of Defense to designate the F-15EX program as a major subprogram and subject it to relevant reporting requirements and criteria pertinent to a major subprogram," HASC's tactical air and land forces subcommittee said in its mark, released June 3.
The legislation, heading to markup June 4, funds two of the
But members of the House Appropriations Committee came through with almost the full request, approving nearly
Lawmakers backed the Air Force’s plan to begin buying the F-15EX fighter jet from Boeing but want to restrict funding until the service provides more information about the model.
The service wants the Strike Eagle variant to replace older F-15Cs that are running out of flight time, and says the fourth-generation jet would complement newer models like the F-35. The Pentagon’s cost and program evaluation office floated, and former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis endorsed, the idea of adding the EX variant to the Air Force’s inventory.
Opponents argue the service should funnel that money into the F-35 program instead, and lawmakers raised concerns about the lack of information provided when the Air Force asked for the jets in its most recent budget request.
In the bipartisan, bicameral agreement on fiscal 2020 defense policy released Dec. 9, congressional authorizers said they want the Air Force to use rapid acquisition rules typically meant to bring prototypes to the field faster than regular procurement allows. The language allows for two initial batches of aircraft and to get a head start on buying materials for future lots.
The joint language requires the military to submit a “comprehensive report” with information on par with that of a major subprogram, but not the formal acquisition documents that could slow the program.
“The conferees expect the Secretary of the Air Force to maintain information transparency with the congressional defense committees, and to sufficiently and promptly keep the congressional defense committees apprised of issues particularly associated with the planning, cost, schedule, execution, fielding, or risk related to the F-15EX program,” lawmakers said in legislative documents accompanying the bill.
The Air Force requested an eight-jet buy for $1.05 billion, but lawmakers pulled $64.5 million they didn’t feel was needed for certain engineering work and instead authorized $985.5 million for eight aircraft.
However, the Air Force can’t use that 2020 money for anything other than two prototype jets until 15 days after Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett sends Congress a report on the F-15EX program. She must outline the program’s acquisition, logistics, and fielding strategies, the cost and schedule for buying the jets, and how the service will test them. USAF can use the remaining money to research, develop, and buy parts for the six other fighters in the eight-piece purchase.
Air Force Magazine
Work on the F-15EX