|By Carmelo Turdo|
Boeing has continued slow but steady production of F-15 Eagle variant strike fighters, a legacy aircraft from it's takeover of McDonnell Douglas, for export to Israel, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Singapore. Will any further exports include the Silent Eagle? This variant, first flown in 2010, incorporates radar-absorbent materials, electronic countermeasures, and conformal internal weapons carriage capabilities (with the ability to rapidly convert to full F-15E loading without the conformal bays). While not a fully stealthy aircraft, the Silent Eagle significantly increases the odds of survival by reducing its IR and radar signatures using technology cleared for export customers. Boeing is also looking for more export customers for its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighter to continue its St. Louis production line and keep unit costs down for current U.S. orders. Ironically, export orders like the F-15 deal announced today will keep defense contractors producing legacy weapons systems that may eventually be again needed in America if the new high technology, high cost models do not pan out (ie. F-22).