Boeing has formally handed over the second F-15EX next-generation fighter aircraft to the US Air Force (USAF) ahead of schedule.

The F-15EX is the result of close collaboration between industry, the USAF and the Air National Guard (ANG).

The jet is a ready-now replacement for the ageing F-15C and features superior payload, range and speed capabilities, as well as new digital infrastructure.

It is the most advanced variant of the multi-role, all-weather, and day and night versions of the F-15 aircraft family.

Boeing vice-president and F-15 programme manager Prat Kumar said: “Moving from contract award to delivery in a matter of months enables the US Air Force to get a head start on flight testing and demonstrates our commitment to exceeding expectations.

“Along with state-of-the-art avionics and survivability suite, the new F-15EX includes almost three miles of high-speed digital data bus to enable open architecture, which will keep it evolving ahead of threats for decades.”

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The second F-15EX will soon start testing at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB). The first aircraft was delivered last month.

Kumar added: “Delivering the F-15EX to defend our freedom is a source of intense pride for the Boeing and industry team.”

In July last year, the USAF awarded Boeing a $1.2bn contract for the production of first lot of eight F-15EX advanced fighter aircraft.