Boeing expects to receive an export license for its new F-15SE Silent Eagle within the month, a development that brings the company to openly pitch the jet to South Korea as a potential launch customer.
The Chicago-based defense giant has been in tentative talks with Seoul about the aircraft over the last year. However, it has not been able to openly market the semi-stealthy jet to international customers until it received clearance from the U.S. Government to sell low-observable technology abroad.
Boeing now expects to receive a government license to market the jet to foreign countries this month following a review of the jet's stealth technology by the U.S. Government, according to Brad Jones, Boeing's F-15SE program manager.
South Korea "has asked for information on Silent Eagle so now we've applied for the [license] and we hope to get that before the end of the month," said Jones, after a July company briefing with reporters in Arlington, VA. "As soon as the export license is provided, then I can provide [marketing] information to a country."
South Korea requested information on the jet in late 2009 and Boeing submitted its application to market the jet internationally in early 2010, according to company spokesman Damien Mills.
When the jet was unveiled in 2009, it was seen as a potential option to hedge against a possible fighter gap facing the U.S. Air National Guard, which may have to retire its oldest F-16s and F-15s before it is fully equipped with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
However, in the year since, the Air Force has made it clear that it does not want to invest in any new fighter other than the F-35.
Boeing is pitching the Silent Eagle as a customizable fighter that can be outfitted with a host of upgrades, including active electronically scanned array radars, radar absorbent coatings, large digital cockpit displays, fly-by-wire software, canted tails and bolt-on internal weapons bays.
The price of each jet will depend on the equipment purchased by each government, according to Jones. While the radar, advanced avionics and even the weapon bays can be retrofitted to existing F-15s, the canted tails may have to be installed on new jets as they are built.