F-15 on the Cusp of Overdue Upgrade to Digital Defense System

By Marc Selinger | June 1, 2018
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An F-15SE Silent Eagle. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy

The Eagle Passive/Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS), which is intended to improve the ability of U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter jets to detect and counter air and ground threats, is on track to begin flight tests in the fourth quarter of this year, according to EPAWSS prime contractor Boeing.

Developmental testing will occur through the second quarter of 2020 and be followed by an independent operational test and evaluation phase that will last about a year, Boeing said in written response to questions. Tests will take place at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida and Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

If the program is fully funded, the Air Force will start fielding EPAWSS on the F-15E Strike Eagle in September 2022 and the F-15C Eagle in September 2023, Boeing said. A total of more than 400 F-15s — 217 F-15Es and 196 F-15Cs – could get the upgrade.

The all-digital EPAWSS will enhance the F-15’s ability to detect and identify air and ground threats, use countermeasures and jam enemy radar. It will replace the F-15’s original self-defense system, the 1970s-era Tactical Electronic Warfare System (TEWS), whose analog technology has limited capability against modern threats. TEWS is also becoming more difficult and expensive to maintain.

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