06 May 2015
The AN/APG-63(V) is the fire control radar for the F-15A/B/C/D Eagle fighter. A modified version, the AN/APG-70, superseded the APG-63 on the F-15E Strike Eagle, but was then itself to be replaced with the APG-63(V)1, as part of a comprehensive APG-63 upgrade. The APG-63(V)1 LRIP contract was awarded in August 1997, with full rate production beginning in 2002. Japan and South Korea also chose the APG-63(V)1 (Japanese license production by MELCO was just beginning in2006).
In 2004 the Air Force changed its plans to upgrade 400 F-15s with the APG-63(V)1, and instead (following the success of the Active Electronically Scanned Array [AESA] APG-63 (V)2) decided to add the APG-63(V)3, essentially a combination of the APG-63(V)1 with an AESA antenna. However, production of (V)3 upgrades for the USAF and Air National Guard (ANG) has been limited, with Singapore’s new F-15SGs getting the (V)3 first.
The USAF has long planned to keep its F-15C/Ds in service until at least 2025, alongside the F-22. In March 2014, the Air Force proposed retiring 51 additional F-15Cs, leaving about 179 F-15C/Ds in service, but final numbers (which will also include about 48 US Air National Guard F-
15C/Ds), as well as retirement dates, are still uncertain pending future budget decisions. All these aircraft are funded in the February 2015 (FY16) budget or planned to get the new APG-63(V)3. With the F-22 dead, the Air Force can ask for F-15 AESA radar funding without any fear of it jeopardizing its highest priority.
The 220 F-15Es the Air Force plans to keep in service through at least 2030 will get an even newer radar which entered development in FY09, the APG-63(V)4 Radar Modernization Program (RMP) radar, now designated AN/APG-82(V)1, which replaces the APG-63(V)1 back-end with a modified AN/APG-79 radar back-end from the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, and also adds an AESA antenna. APG-82 test flights began in January 2011, and APG-82-equipped USAF F-15Es began flying in July 2014.
Internationally, despite the political fallout over recent events in the region, the Saudis have wanted a new batch of F-15s for some time. Saudi Arabia’s F-15SA order has now been confirmed and production has begun with the APG-63(V)3. Thus, our radar production forecast lines will continue in force for both the APG-63(V)3 (Saudi Arabia and the USAF/ANG) and the APG-82(V)1 (USAF F-15Es).
Teal Group no longer sees a good possibility for new F-15 buyers. We have also removed major follow-on orders for existing customers. But though Boeing’s new-platform production line may be shutting down, there is more than a decade ahead of major Raytheon radar upgrades. South Korea was offered the APG-63(V)3 as part of Boeing’s stealth enhanced F-15SE Silent Eagle bid for the F-X III program, so Teal Group expects the new AESA radars will be releasable to all current F-15 users.
Japan has reportedly expressed interest in a fleet-wide radar upgrade for its F-15J (F-15C/D); today this would be the APG-63(V)3, but a few years out the APG-82 may prove to be the superior radar (thought probably still more expensive).
Near-term radar upgrades are also likely for Saudi Arabia – probably already planned and probably to be produced in parallel with or immediately following F-15SA radar production. The APG-82 would be the likely replacement for the F-15S’s APG-70, as for the USAF F-15E radars. In early 2015, unconfirmed reports indicated the Israeli Air Force would upgrade (or planned to upgrade) its Boeing F-15I strike aircraft, including replacement of the APG-70 radar, also moswe t likely with Raytheon’s APG-82. The remaining F-15 customers – Israel (earlier versions), Japan, and South Korea – are also likely to begin upgrades to AESA antennas in the next decade, and have included a healthy “Undetermined” forecast line.
Note that all our international AESA upgrade Production Forecasts are speculative – no schedules have been publically announced – and actual production schedules will likely vary from our forecasts. Unless AESA transmit/receive (T/R) module costs decrease drastically, all the various APG-63 and APG-82 upgrades will be worth about $6 billion in our forecast period. This will make F-15 radars one of the world’s largest radar programs over the next ten years – much more valuable than what may eventually be a greater number of (less expensive) F-16 AESA upgrades.