Boeing unveiled a new version of its F-15 Eagle airplane, called the F-15SE, which is aimed primarily for export. The new design includes several improvements over earlier versions of the F-15, including improved stealth capabilities and a bay designed for carrying internal weapons as well as improved radar and electronic scanners.
The major innovation of the F-15 Silent Eagle (SE) design is its new internal weapons bay. Some of the current models of the F-15 include the ability to carry extra fuel storage in the form of conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) ,which are fuel cells located underneath the body of the plane and are shaped in such a way that will minimize the drag on the aircraft. The new F15SE substitute the CFT module with a similar unit which can carry weapons internally instead of fuel. The new system can house either air-to-air missiles, such as the AIM-9 and AIM-120, as well as small air-to-ground weapons such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and Small Diameter Bomb (SDB). Every new tank will be able to hold two air-to-air missiles or 1,000/500-pound JDAMs; alternatively up to four 250-pound SDBs can be carried per tank.
Another design change is the addition of canted vertical tails which improve the aerodynamic efficiency of the craft while providing more lift and reducing the weight of the aircraft frame. The new F-15SE also incorporates a BAE Systems Digital Electronic Warfare System (DEWS) and the Raytheon Advanced Electronic Scanning Array (AESA) to improve situational awareness and electronic countermeasures capabilities. Improvements in stealth using special coating and other treatments are also promised although no specific details have been provided at this time.
The F-15SE will be available to international customers (unlike the F-22 which is currently limited to the USAF only). The F-15SE is still in the design phase; early testing of the internal weapons carriage including live weapons testing is planned for early 2010.
TFOT has previously reported on stealth technology, including research at Georgia Tech designed to reduce the noise made by UAVs, the Northrup Grumman stealth X-47B UAV designed for the United States Navy, a stealthy off road hybrid vehicle designed for the United States Army by Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies, and a backpack-sized MAV designed by Honeywell for DARPA.
You can read more about the F-15SE Silent Eagle stealth fighter in this Boeing press release and about the BAE Systems DEWS in this Boeing press release. A video showing the missile deploying from the new tanks can be seen here. More analysis can be read on Aviation’s Week article.