Posts Tagged ‘F15C’
The U.S. Air Force has terminated funding for an infrared search and track (IRST) upgrade for its F-15C/D fleet as part of the service’s push last year to produce savings for the Pentagon’s fiscal 2012 budget.
Air Force officials say that the effort was designed to provide “the only USAF search and targeting capability in the infrared spectrum designed specifically for air-to-air, providing air-to-air attack capability in a radar-denied environment on the F-15C/D.”
The system could be useful for air-to-air fighter engagements as well as cruise missile targeting and ballistic missile early warning. Lockheed Martin provides the sensor for the pod.
However, the service opted to remove research and development funding for the program in fiscal 2012 and beyond, according to Air Force officials. In the budget, they propose pulling $34.9 million in fiscal 2012 and a total of $345 million across the future year defense plan (including 2012).
Boeing, which is the prime contractor for the F-15, says that it continues to work with the Air Force to “explore options” for the program.
Air Force officials cite “technical challenges” with the F-15 version as their rationale.
Navy officials, however, say that the effort is proceeding as planned.
“The Navy’s F/A-18 IRST program is meeting program cost and schedule requirements,” says Marcia Hart-Wise, a spokeswoman for the service’s Super Hornet program.
The Navy version is ahead of that planned for the F-15 in its programmatic schedule.
Because the Navy’s deliveries of F-35s come later than the Air Force’s and because its fleet of Super Hornets must remain operationally relevant longer than some Air Force legacy fighters, the service is spending money on its F/A-18E/Fs to keep them in the fight. One industry official notes that the use of an IRST is required because radars run the risk of being jammed at critical moments. The Navy is still buying Super Hornets and plans to buy an additional 41 aircraft owing to delays in the F-35 schedule.
It was the summer before her senior year at the University of Texas at Austin, and officer candidate Cathy De La Garza was headed to an air base in Florida to spend two weeks “shadowing” an active duty officer. The idea was to get a taste of the real Air Force before she graduated.
” The officer was an F-15 pilot. I got a couple of rides when I was down there,” she said, “and that just brainwashed me.”
De La Garza grew up in Austin, the daughter of a Japanese mom and Irish dad, the latter a retired Air Force chief master sergeant. Her two older brothers were pilots; one flew C-130s for the Air Force, the other Army helicopters. “I kind of looked up to them, I guess,” she said. In addition, a brother-in-law flew F-14s for the Navy. By the time she got to high school, she’d decided she wanted to fly, too.
De La Garza knew what she wanted to do. And the timing was right. That spring, the Pentagon had begun allowing women to compete to fly combat aircraft.
Today, De La Garza is one of only seven woman F-15 pilots in the Air Force. For the past two years, she has flown the F-15C, a powerful air-to-air combat version of the jet, for the 71st Fighter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base. It’s a tour of duty that has included two deployments to the Persian Gulf region and roughly 50 flights over the “no-fly” zone in southern Iraq. Now a captain, she also recently earned an upgrade to “2-ship flight lead”; that means she can lead another jet out on a combat mission.
“It pushes me to do a lot of things I wouldn’t do normally,” De La Garza said during a recent interview at Langley. “It just forces me to use all my skill, everything they taught me. It just puts me out there.”
She’s aware that others still view her as a curiosity — including, upon first meeting, the wives of her male squadron mates, even though she’s married. She’s also fully versed in the short history of women in combat jets, including the controversy that swirled around the first women combat pilots in the Navy. She insists she hasn’t been granted special favors or considerations during her five-year career.
“I think I’ve been treated fairly and allowed to succeed or fail like everybody else,” she said. “I was not given preferential treatment. I can tell you that.”
Asked if she foresees a day when just as many women as men are flying combat jets, De La Garza said it will depend on the level of interest. If she were to ask a room full of young women what they want to do in life, she said, “I don’t think too many women would say, ‘I want to fly jets.’”
Ultimately, the attempt to integrate women into combat roles “may fail miserably,” De La Garza said. “Who knows? We haven’t had the history to make that decision. But I think everybody should have the opportunity” to fill such roles, she said. De La Garza hopes she’s one woman who is breaking down barriers to those opportunities.
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Boeing and U.S. Air Force officials at Kadena Air Base celebrated the arrival of four F-15Cs upgraded with the APG-63(V)3 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. The newly arrived F-15Cs will join the APG-63(V)1 and (V)2 aircraft already in the 44th and 67th Fighter Squadrons to provide unmatched combat power for the defense of Japan. The upgrades were installed and tested at Langley Air Force Base, Va.
Boeing is under contract to fully upgrade 27 Air Force and 18 Air National Guard F-15C/D aircraft with the APG-63(V)3 AESA over the next 10 months. A total of 54 AESA-equipped F-15C/Ds are scheduled to be on station at Kadena by September 2013.
“The fielded APG-63(V)3 air-to-air capabilities put the F-15C/D in a class by itself and ensure that the Air Force and Air National Guard F-15C/D fleets remain capable, maintainable and affordable,” said Todd Burns, F-15C AESA program manager for Boeing. “Delivery of these four aircraft on schedule demonstrates Boeing’s commitment to ensuring the F-15 remains a world-class multirole fighter.”
Boeing’s Global Services & Support division provides U.S. Air Force F-15 sustainment services including ground support equipment, spares and retrofit programs, contractor field teams and a full range of training systems and services.
The Raytheon APG-63(V)3 is a highly reliable and affordable high-performance AESA for the F-15 air-to-air variant. The AESA radar antenna is 50 times more reliable than the mechanically scanned antenna it replaces.
“This system improves our capabilities and lethality as a combat air force. We will fly our missions equipped with the world’s most powerful air- to-air radar,” said Brig. Gen. Ken Wilsbach, commander of the 18th Wing at Kadena. “This capability strengthens our ability to carry out our mission to provide unmatched combat power, provide a forward power projection platform, and provide for the common defense of Japan.”
- DEFENCE TALK