Bah...the F-15 was a fantastic fighter in the seventies when was introduced and also in the mid eighties when the production was shifted to the E version.
If they had dropped the requirement for the F-35 to replace the Harrier for the US Marines it could have been a stealthy F-16 and it could have been very good.
The requirement for a huge engine driven fan has screwed its shape and design... it has turned what could have been a stealthy F-16 into a stealthy Buccaneer.
Now don't get me wrong... the Bucc is my favourite British aircraft... I even prefer it to the Spitfire... the F-16 should not have replaced it in the light strike role because the Bucc was faster at low level with a nuclear bomb under each wing and had better range... and it could operate from aircraft carriers.
If the British still had a real carrier when the Falklands war kicked off if they had taken a half load of Buccs and a half load of F-4 Phantoms the Argentines would not have had a leg to stand on and the silly risky dangerous Vulcan raid could have been performed by the Buccs from the carriers as they arrived on site...
The problem is that the Bucc is no fighter plane, so while it is a better strike plane than an F-16 the F-16 was better because it could do both fighter and light strike/attack.
The F-35 is not a good fighter its aerodynamics are poor and skewed away from light fighter to medium strike.
The F-15 on the other hand with new engines and new electronic and new radar in the F-15E form rather than the F-15C air to air only form will be a much much better aircraft... it will literally be an Su-35 with the Su-34s attack capacity mixed in...
You can call F-35 next gen all you want but the 4th and 5th gen fighters have a huge overlap and the lowest 5th gen fighter (F-35) is not ahead of many of the best 4th gen fighters like the MiG-35 and the Su-35 and even the Rafale... and soon F-15EX.
Use by Israel in Syria shows the F-35s hide in mountain ranges and fire stand off munitions to attack air defence targets from afar... a 4th gen fighter can already do that much much cheaper... it can also carry more payload further and faster and still much much much cheaper.
Now, this new version is basically the same that this latter one,(the E, I mean) with updated avionics but carrying AA missiles on its CFT racks, instead of bombs, no advanced anti-stealth, no canard, no TVC.
Which means it is not as good as Su-35 or MiG-35 in terms of some areas of performance, but it is still much better than the F-35 in many important areas... maintenance should be much much cheaper and flight hours also cheaper too.
Naturally, carrying a double payload of missiles wouldn't add nothing and would instead just hamper the plane's performances.
AFAIK the F-15E is a full 9g fighter with payload... one of the few types out there that can manage that... but having extra weapons options is not normally a bad thing... and certainly carrying the weapons you would need 10 F-35s to deliver on maybe 4 F-15EX aircraft is actually a good thing too.
The idea of using them as a sort of flying arsenal ship i.e. practically shooting them under F-35 guidance just didn't ake sense to me, as they would be carrying the same missiles anyway, so that they would be well into opponents' reach.
I have seen mention of a flying arsenal aircraft but it was not an F-15... it was a converted C-130 that carried all sorts of heavy ordinance like long range heavy missiles... it also retained inflight refuelling capacity so the F-35s essentially carried light self defence weapons and flew ahead to use its sensors to find targets the C-130 could launch standoff attacks against... the F-35 able to head back and refuel via the C-130 to improve endurance on station.
Obviously such aircraft would be primary targets and rather easy meat for R-37M and newer replacement missiles on the way... and they would neither be fast nor stealthy... but obviously much more affordable than stealthy C-17s which were already gold plated lode stones.
If i may, from what i recall from the time Stealth aircraft started appearing, the idea in those day of the F-117 was to infiltrate and Take down or Cripple as much of the enemy's radar and air-force infrastructure as possible in order for the Main Force to deliver the killing blows.
I wont contradict you there because there was a belief that in Desert Storm that is what the F-117s did.... but in actual fact the radars... civilian and military that could detect F-117s were taken down first with Apache helicopters.
You would think a long range stealthy anti radiation cruise missile would be much cheaper and also much more effective than the F-117, but long wave radars are hard to hit with ARMs because of the signal width.
Stealthy cruise missiles today with terminal guidance would be much more effective... faster... longer ranged.... and much much cheaper and not needing any sort of escort force.
Interestingly the B-2 was to be a bomber and not a cruise missile carrier like Soviet strategic aircraft like the Bear and Blackjack... before Desert Storm the plan was to sneak into Soviet airspace with B-2s and fly over their ICBM fields and naval ports and attempt to wipe out most of their ICBMs and SSBNs in a sneaky first strike in the hope of demanding surrender terms or wipe them out with the follow up strike of western SSBNs and ICBMs...
With total air control over a relatively small country called Iraq... with the launch areas further reduced by the limited range of the modified Scuds and with practically total air control at least of those areas they thought they could wipe out the Scuds the way the planned to hit the Silos and truck mounted ICBMs the Soviets had... with satellites covering the entire combat area it was going to be easy.
Dozens of launches a day and not a single Scud missile destroyed on a launcher before launch... a total failure... the number of B-2s went from 200 to 20 and that job was dropped from their stage show sales brochures...
That or the U.S is going to drop it's emphasis on Stealth almost completely (with the exception of Drones), and pursue a more Russian strategy of using Cruise missiles instead all this expensive Stealth.
Don't worry... the US MIC doesn't do cheap, so they will find a way of making it expensive...
Mega-expensive US weapons' procurement programs have an unbelievable amount of momentum behind them, so much so that its virtually impossible to hit the brakes. If one was to try, there would be the inevitable push-back by politically-connected MIC heavyweights and corrupt politicians who care for nothing except keeping the MIC industries operating at full-tilt within their electoral jurisdiction.
The C-17 was the first project designed to the idea of putting factories in places where senators on committees that decide funding for the Pentagon have their jurisdictions... It made the aircraft horrendously expensive without making it better, but they didn't even need to ask for them in the end... funding kept getting approved for new planes to keep production going... it broke all the rules of supply and demand but it was a very successful programme.
The F-35 was the same so funding will never be cut and bullshit scams like... the latest models are only 70 million dollars an airframe can be shown to prove cost cutting worked... but when you add the 40 million dollar engine it costs about the same 110 million per aircraft that it did before that they said they could not afford.
They seem to be saving 40 million dollars per aircraft but what they are actually doing is wasting 70 million dollars on an airframe that can't fly until you spend another 40 million dollars to buy the engine.