The USAF Air National Guard (ANG) has taken delivery of its first F-15 Golden Eagle, an F-15C upgraded with a new AN/APG-63(V)3 advanced electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.
The APG-63 replaces the ageing APG-70 radar, and gives the F-15s far greater situational awareness and a new anti-cruise missile mission.
“When the F-15 was first designed and made, the radar in it was world class, the best at the time, but it’s 1970s technology,” said Maj Dave Slaydon, chief of F-15 requirements for the ANG. “It’s a mechanically scanned array, meaning it’s a radar dish like you would see in the movies and it has hydraulics that move it back and forth to point around the sky to find the bad guys. With this new technology it is a flat panel with a bunch of little panels on it and you can electronically steer the radar beam around. There aren’t any hydraulics or mechanical parts banging around. That gives it a really, really high reliability rate which is good for us as it means the jet is (available) more often to fly as there are less maintenance actions required on it.”
Only 44 F-15Cs have been funded to receive the upgrade, but the USAF hopes to expand this in the wake of delays to the F-35 JSF program and the cutting of F-22 production.