The Air Force is conducting a market survey for new F-15E simulators to train pilots should the service receive new Boeing [BA]-made F-15EX aircraft, according to an April 24 solicitation.

The notice, posted Wednesday on FedBizOpps, states that the Air Force intends to upgrade its current F-15E virtual reality (VR) flight simulator, and purchase new “integrated” systems that have mixed virtual reality capabilities as well.

Retired Lt. Col. Robert Pardo approaches an F-4 Phantom while in the F-15E Strike Eagle flight simulator at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., Oct. 10, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum)

Some requested VR capabilities cited in the notice include: A VR cockpit with touchscreen similar to an F-15E Strike eagle front and back seat; augmented or mixed reality capability to see switches that would be flipped; and enhanced feedback to Gs/buffet sensations.

Requested software capabilities include the ability to fly and record events replayable in multiple perspectives; accurate radar and head-up display representations based on mode; and world maps with relevant visual references. Additionally, the Air Force wants the ability to receive student performance and biometrics recordings.

Service providers are being sought to gauge the level of interest, and must submit responses by May 1. A more thorough solicitation may be posted at a later date, the notice said.

The Air Force requested eight new F-15EX fighter aircraft in its fiscal year 2020 presidential budget request, a move that has been criticized by various members of Congress who would see a higher number of Lockheed Martin [LMT]-made F-35A Joint Strike Fighters go into the budget instead (Defense Daily, April 5). The Air Force has said that the decision to procure new F-15s is tied to the need to replace its fleet of F-15C/D aircraft on a rapid timeframe and within budget, and is not meant to replace any planned F-35 buys (Defense Daily,  April 9).

A Pentagon official also defended the planned buys as a way to maintain a robust fighter industrial base (Defense Daily, March 22).

The exact number of F-35A and F-15EX aircraft to be procured is expected to be hashed out in the congressional markup sessions ahead of the FY ’20 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and defense appropriation bills.