FW: STLtoday article: Boeing's F-15 tries to stay aloft
- wayne d.binkley <wbinkley@...>
>Subject: STLtoday article: Boeing's F-15 tries to stay aloft from
>Date: Mon, 1 Aug 2005 10:16:50 -0500
>This STLtoday.com article -- "Boeing's F-15 tries to stay aloft"-- has
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>Boeing's F-15 tries to stay aloft
>By Tim McLaughlin
>Of the Post-Dispatch
>Here is the story.
>Boeing Co.'s St. Louis-made F-15 Eagle used to be the sure thing of fighter
>jet procurement. Now the aging fighter is just a long shot in its own
>Jim Albaugh, chief executive of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, says the
>odds are against the U.S. Air Force signing a multiyear deal to buy more
>F-15s. That assessment isn't surprising as the Pentagon prepares to spend
>billions of dollars over the next few decades for the F/A-22 Raptor and
>F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, two planes under development by Lockheed Martin
>Still, some influential members of Congress say the Air Force needs a hedge
>against production delays or cost overruns. They believe the F-15 can play
>an important role in keeping the country's dwindling inventory of fighter
>jets at a healthy level during the transition to the Raptor and JSF.
>One potential scenario has the Air Force buying anywhere from 100 to 144
>F-15s as insurance against a slip in the JSF program, according to people
>familiar with informal discussions that started about two years ago.
>That would be a boon for the F-15 program. Production of the storied combat
>plane will end in 2008, unless Boeing wins more orders. St. Louis defense
>workers have made more than 1,500 of the F-15s. The first F-15A flight was
>made in 1972.
>Currently, the most hopeful market for more F-15s is Singapore, which could
>make a decision as early as next month on whether to take the Boeing plane
>or a French-made fighter in a competition worth an estimated $1 billion.
>Albaugh, meanwhile, isn't raising hopes for any big orders from the U.S.
>"Oh, I think that would be kind of a long shot," Albaugh told the
>Post-Dispatch in a telephone interview last week. "Obviously, that depends
>on our customer and what they want to do. Right now, I think that's a real
>long shot. But I think there's an opportunity for us to extend the F-15
>line by winning the competition in Singapore. I think there's an
>opportunity to get some additional airplanes in Korea. And it would always
>be nice to have a warm production line in the event our U.S. customers
>decide they want some more."
>If more F-15s are ordered, Boeing would be able to deliver them at whatever
>build rate is desired by the U.S. Air Force, Boeing said in a statement
>earlier this month.
>Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services
>Committee, suggested that Air Force fighter procurement needs a boost,
>especially in the early years of Raptor and JSF production.
>"There's only one alternative," Hunter said at a committee hearing earlier
>this month. "And that's to bridge that gap between that little bitty
>inventory of aircraft that we're going to have in the future of (Raptors)
>and Joint Strike Fighters, and that would be to produce more F-15s and
>Hunter is worried the Pentagon may be writing off the F-15 and F-16 too
>"Would we not need to maintain production on those two aircraft well into
>the future, even as those lines, at least with the F-15, are going cold
>here shortly?" he asked at a committee hearing that included Lt. Gen.
>Stephen G. Wood, the Air Force's deputy chief of staff for plans and
>programs. "... I don't see another answer."
>The Pentagon's current Quadrennial Defense Review will help answer
>questions about the future of the F-15 as military leaders discuss fighter
>jet force requirements. But Wood made it clear at the House Armed Services
>Committee hearing that the F-15 won't be at the forefront of those
>The Air Force will push hard on "articulating the importance" of the
>Raptor, for example. The Bush administration's defense budget sharply
>reduced planned deliveries of the Raptor to 179 planes. The Air Force's
>stated goal calls for getting 381.
>When Hunter asked Wood if there's a need to have bridge production of F-15
>aircraft, the general said he couldn't rule it out, especially when you
>assess the uncertainties that come with developing new fighter jets.
>"If we can't get more (Raptors) and we have significant slips in the (Joint
>Strike Fighter) program, we're going to have to continue to look at
>bridging that, and it's very viable to look into other aircraft," the
>general said. "But, sir, I would tell you that we're working very hard in
>the Quadrennial Defense Review to make the case that the nation needs 381
>(Raptors) and to keep that line going."
>[<B>]Reporter Tim McLaughlin[</B>]
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