Called Strike

By Dan Dupont / March 17, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Inside the Air Force's editor, Marcus Weisgerber, is out in St. Louis today for the unveiling of the new F-15SE -- the Silent Eagle -- which Boeing touts as a "stealthy" version of the fighter designed for "international customers."

From our story:

ST. LOUIS, March 17, 2009 -- In an effort to keep its international fighter jet business churning, Boeing today revealed a new, advanced version of the multirole F-15 Eagle, which the company has been secretly developing for months.

Dubbed the F-15 Silent Eagle, the fighter jet sports side-mounted conformal fuel tanks that can carry both air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons. Program officials claim the internal weapons bays, combined with canted vertical tails, special coating and advanced computer systems, turn the aircraft into a stealthy day-one strike aircraft.

Boeing displayed a full-scale model of the new jet in a hanger here close to where it builds international versions of the F-15E Strike Eagle. The ground test aircraft displayed during the roll-out is a modified version of the first F-15E flight test aircraft.

In what Boeing terms “front-end” stealth mode, the jet can carry a mixture of Joint Direct Attack Munitions, Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles and Small Diameter Bombs. The internal weapon bays can carry up to four AMRAAMs, or two JDAMs, or a mix of SDBs.

“Our international customers are worried about their future threats and they’re particularly worried about the value of stealth,” said Mark Bass, the company’s F-15 program vice president.

In a low-threat environment, the conformal fuel tanks -- which were flight-certified on the F-15C by the Air Force in the 1980s -- could be replaced by separate tanks that allow for external weapons mounting. The jet could then carry a heavy weapons load similar to an F-15E’s.

The aircraft likely will cost less than $100 million, according to Bass.

More pics here.