Boeing is seeking approval from the U.S. government to offer the latest F-15EX fighter aircraft to India, FlightGlobal’s Greg Waldron reported.
The government clearance is required for Boeing to discuss the F-15EX with Indian officials under the export control regulation, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has a requirement for 110 fighter jets following the cancellation of its Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition for acquiring 126 fighters and acquiring 36 Dassault Rafale jets from France in a Government-to-government (G2G) deal.
Boeing is also offering its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft for the requirement.
F-15EX is the most advanced variant of Boeing F-15 Eagle/F-15E Strike Eagle fighter aircraft to date. It is a derivative of the F-15SA aircraft currently operational with the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF).
Improvements over the previous versions include the AMBER (Advanced Missile and Bomb Ejection Rack) weapons rack to carry up to 22 air-to-air missiles (AAMs), infra-red search and track (IRST), advanced avionics and electronic warfare (EW) equipment, AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar, and revised structure with a service life of 20,000 hours.
The F-15EX aircraft is now being procured by the U.S. Air Force. In the Budget released in March 2019, the U.S. Department of Defense requested USD1.1 billion to procure eight F-15EX fighters for a total planned procurement of 144 F-15EXs.
Indian Air Force MMRCA Competition
The MMRCA competition was floated to fill the gap between The IAF’s HAL Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and Sukhoi Su-30MKI air superiority fighter.
The competition was won by French Dassault Rafale, but on 31 July 2015, the deal was officially withdrawn by the government and the country ordered 36 off-the-shelf Rafales, in a G2G deal with France, for €7.8 billion with an option for 18 more. The first Rafale was delivered to the IAF during a ceremony at Dassault Aviation’s Rafale final assembly facility in Mérignac in Bordeaux, France on Oct. 8 last year.
Indian Air Force MMRCA 2.0 Competition
A new competition, dubbed MMRCA 2 or MMRCA 2.0, was floated to procure an additional 110 fighter jets for the IAF.
All the aircraft that participated in the original MMRCA competition are competing in the MMRCA 2.0 competition – Saab Gripen E/F (Sweden), Dassault Rafale (France), Eurofighter Typhoon (Europe), Mikoyan MiG-35 (Russia), Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet (USA) and F-16 offering, dubbed F-21 for India-specific-variant, from Lockheed Martin (USA). Lockheed Martin’s MMRCA offering was designated F-16IN Block 70/72 “Super Viper.
The additional contenders for the new competition will likely include Sukhoi Su-35 (Russia) and the Boeing F-15EX (USA).
Indian Navy MRCBF Competition
In addition to the IAF requirement for 110 fighters, the Indian Navy has a requirement of 57 carrier-based aircraft. The main contenders for the Multi-Role Carrier Borne Fighter (MRCBF) program are Rafale M and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Both are proven carrier-based fighter aircraft.