Video: Upgraded F-15 is Perfect Wing Man to the F-35

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Tony R. Tolley [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Philip Harris   14 March 2017

To understand why this might just be the perfect wing man for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter we must first identify what areas the F-35 cannot fill that the F-15 can.  The F-35 is a stealth multi role fighter and can be used as a stealth bomber.  But for this aircraft to be stealth it has to carry its weapons inside the aircraft in the internally mounted weapon mounts.  Stealth F-35s can mount weapons to the outside of its wings like other legacy fighter aircraft, however, this causes the stealth to be impacted and defeats the purpose of a stealth fighter in the first place.   Also, externally mounted weapons cause drag on the aircraft reducing its flight time, range and maneuverability.

Enter the new variant of the F-15 Eagle called the F-15 2040C.  The F-15’s main priority in the sky is to defeat any enemy aircraft flying, making it an air superiority fighter. While the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter was extremely expensive and too difficult to maintain, the F-15 are now seeing their chance to continue service helping the F-35s out in the air.  Because the F-35 cannot mount weapons to the outside of the aircraft without compromising its stealth, it is limited in its arsenal choices.   Where as the F-15 2040C is said to be able to carry up to 16 air to air missiles.  That is 10 more than the F-35 can carry.

Popular Mechanics makes an interesting point on this, determining that making the F-15 a missile truck for the F-35s, is a great idea.  The F-35 has a computer that is mostly classified but says it is more of a network that links all friendly aircraft and vehicles with one another to be able to “see” the battlefield more completely.  The vast sensor arrays the F-35 comes with basically means the older F-15 carrying all the missiles can pick up targeting data from stealth F-35s and use the data to shoot the target without risking been seen on radar.

All of this is occurring over contested air space and without any stealth aircraft firing a shot yet.  After the legacy F-15 aircraft have expended their missiles using data the F-35 pilots gave them they head for home, letting the stealth fighters do the rest and more risky maneuvers stealth aircraft are more designed to so.

The specific upgrade these F-15’s will be receiving is in the form of 4 “quad packs”, basically meaning 4 sets of mounts that attach to the wings that carry 4 missiles each.  Making the F-15 2040C a 16 missile toting brawler, that any F-35 could be friends with.

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