A U.S. Air Force plan to divest more than 100 Boeing [BA] F-15E Strike Eagles in the coming years would mean a cut of nearly one-third to the service’s buy of BAE Systems‘ Eagle Passive Active Warning and Survivability System (EPAWSS).

Last year, the Air Force had planned to install EPAWSS on 217 F-15Es and 80 F-15EXs. The Air Force’s fiscal 2024 budget increases the planned overall buy of F-15EXs through fiscal 2025 to 104–all of which are to have EPAWSS, while cutting the number of EPAWSS for F-15Es to 99. Thus, the Air Force’s planned buy of EPAWSS is now 203, versus the 297 planned last year.

“F-15 EPAWSS procurement plans have been aligned to the Air Force’s F-15E divestment plan and will result in 99 EPAWSS-modified aircraft,” per the Air Force fiscal 2024 budget request. “Prior-year funding will procure 43 units and budget-year funding will procure 21 units, leaving 35 units to be procured in subsequent years. The designed service life of EPAWSS is the life of the aircraft.”

Other F-15E modification line items in the Air Force’s budget suggest that the service is planning to reduce the number of F-15Es to 99, as the F-15EX comes online.

Last June, Air Force acquisition chief Andrew Hunter approved EPAWSS low-rate initial production and EPAWSS installation on 43 F-15Es.

The Air Force requests nearly $281 million in fiscal 2024 for EPAWSS, an increase of more than $20 million from last year’s appropriation.

In an Apr. 26 email response to questions, BAE Systems said that “we are aware that the U.S. Air Force made changes aligned to their TACAIR [tactical aircraft] strategy during the normal budget process and we will address those decisions as required in the Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS) procurement. BAE Systems has delivered EPAWSS hardware to Boeing and looks forward to further demonstration of the system’s advanced capabilities at the Northern Edge 2023 test event.”

EPAWSS is to replace the F-15E’s Northrop Grumman [NOC]-built Tactical Electronic Warfare System self-protection suite, a 1970s-era system that is “functionally obsolete” and costly to sustain, the Air Force has said.

The F-15E has been a workhorse in the Air Force’s fighter stable. Last month, two Strike Eagles struck Iranian-backed militia targets in Syria, the Pentagon said (Defense Daily, March 24).

Combat aircraft receiving the biggest requested flying hour increases in fiscal 2024 are the Strike Eagle–13,106 hours, the Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-35A–13,064 hours, the F-15EX–4,200 hours, and the A-10–2,507 hours. The Air Force requests 17,353 fewer hours in fiscal 2024 for the F-15C/D fleet, which the service wants to retire.

In fiscal 2024, the Air Force requests more than $8 billion for 1.1 million flying hours (Defense Daily, Apr. 6).