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What Held Back the F-15SE Silent Eagle From Taking Off

The F-15SE Quiet Eagle could have been more stealthy and innovative. It was doomed to fail because of that.

F-15SE Silent Eagle. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The F-15 Eagle has been an incredibly successful jet fighter, and the new F-15EX is about to take to the skies. The F-15 boasts a spotless record in battle, racking up 100 confirmed kills with no casualties.

As of right now, the 50-year-old system is still valid. The U.S. Air Force has not made any plans to retire it.

Though it debuted about 25 years ago to replace the F-15, the fifth-generation F-22 has yet to succeed. The F-15 remains an essential component of the Air Force’s force structure since it has proven itself too valuable and capable of being replaced.

Though the F-15 platform debuted in the 1970s, the avionics have been regularly updated to provide for a reasonably modern fighter that can still perform adequately in contemporary battle. There have also been iterations on the basic F-15 design, most notably the F-15E Strike Eagle. In 1986, the first Strike Eagles entered service. Its air-to-ground capabilities set it apart from other F-15 variants. The F-15 program, as a whole, has been an enormous success.

Unfortunately, the stealthy F-15SE Quiet Eagle derivative was never widely produced.

Introduced in 2009, the silent Eagle is unlike any other bird. As the name suggests, it was a stealthier variant of the regular F-15. Boeing originally designed the plane with exports in mind. The Silent Eagle was intended to compete with Lockheed Martin’s F-35 II Lightning for international customers. In comparison to its forebears, the Silent Eagle had many unique characteristics.

The jet’s conformal weapons bay and fuel tanks decreased the radar cross-section of the Silent Eagle. The F-15SE could carry four air-to-air missiles, AIM-120 AMRAAMs, AIM-9 Sidewinders, JDAM satellite-guided bombs, or Small Diameter Bombs, which the Strike Eagle was certified to carry. Moreover, the Silent Eagle could deal with Raytheon AGM-88 high-velocity anti-radiation (HARM) missiles. The HARM missiles were frequently deployed when flying in “Wild Weasel duty, searching for enemy radar systems. As a result, the Silent Eagle would have been a fantastic choice for missions requiring the elimination of enemy air defenses.

In addition, the Silent Eagle’s vertical stabilizers were designed slightly differently. Unlike the original F-15, which featured vertical stabilizers that were utterly parallel to one another, the Silent Eagle’s canter outward at an angle of fifteen degrees. The outward canting of the Silent Eagle not only gave the jet more lift and significantly lowered its radar cross-section. Didnt add More thrust wasn’t added for any reason other than to improve maneuverability. Moreover, extending the F-15’s range by 75–100 miles can compare with earlier models.

The radar cross-section of the Silent Eagle was further decreased by applying radar-absorbent materials, or RAM, to its exterior. “RAM is utilized on current stealth fighters to limit the radar return caused by features of their designs that could not be altered to deflect radar waves.” Such as the fighter’s ramjet inlets, nose, and wing leading edges, according to Alex Hollings’ Sandboxx article.

Although the Silent Eagle had stealth improvements, it was not as stealthy as the F-22 or F-35, built with stealth in mind. As a result, the Silent Eagle could never break into the international trade sector. The F-15SE was both state-of-the-art and cheaply obsolete. The Quiet Eagle was in the middle of the two. It was a high-priced fourth-generation fighter with a small radar signature but no stealth capabilities.

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