The integration of the Eagle Passive Active Warning and Survivability System for the first two F-15Es has begun at Boeing's San Antonio facility, according to a Boeing press release.
A total of 43 F-15Es are slated to receive the EPAWSS enhancement, which is developed by a joint team of Boeing and BAE Systems.
EPAWSS is also being developed for F-15EXs, the new generation of F-15 aircraft built by Boeing. The system was initially tested with the delivery of the first two F-15EXs that participated in Northern Edge exercises in 2021, the release says.
In its annual review of the most expensive Defense Department weapon systems, the Government Accountability Office was recently told in interviews with program officials that the acquisition strategy for EPAWSS, which started production before development was complete, would deliver a capability 16 months earlier than a traditional approach.
Program officials also told GAO that EPAWSS F-15E integration would begin in June.
However, testing challenges identified by GAO pose the risk of delays, such as the system’s “underperformance in dense background frequency environments and with threat radar direction finding.”
The EPAWSS program “must address these issues to avoid future schedule delays and satisfy its current operational requirements,” GAO states. “As a result, the program added additional software integration and test capability and is prepared to accept performance as-is in certain areas, with some requirement changes under consideration.”
Additionally, the program has “yet to fully meet leading acquisition practices for production,” GAO found. An example, GAO notes, is that the program “does not plan to test a production-representative prototype in its intended environment until April 2023.”
That approach would entail budgeting $750 million for the acquisition of approximately 75 EPAWSS units -- 43 for F-15Es and 32 for F-15EXs -- before testing is complete.
In doing so, the program carries “the risk of finding issues in testing that may require costly and time-intensive future rework on units already produced,” according to GAO.