The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded Boeing a $1.2bn contract for the production of first lot of eight F-15EX advanced fighter aircraft.

Under the contract, Boeing will provide design, development, integration, manufacturing, test, verification, certification, delivery, sustainment and modification services for F-15EX aircraft.

The delivery will also include spares, support equipment, training materials, technical data and technical support.

Work under the contract is being performed at the Boeing F-15 production facility in St Louis.

The first two jets are scheduled for delivery next year, while the next six are expected to be delivered in 2023.

Once delivered, the F-15EX jets will replace the oldest F-15C/Ds in the service’s inventory.

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Under the five-year Future Years Defense Programme, the USAF plans to purchase 76 F-15EX aircraft.

It will also announce the overall indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract with a ceiling value of about $23bn for the aircraft.

Air Combat Command commander General Mike Holmes said: “The F-15EX is the most affordable and immediate way to refresh the capacity and update the capabilities provided by our ageing F-15C/D fleets. The F-15EX is ready to fight as soon as it comes off the line.

“When delivered, we expect bases currently operating the F-15 to transition to the new EX platform in a matter of months versus years.”

The two-seat fighter jet has the capability to launch hypersonic weapons up to 22ft long and weighing up to 7,000lb.

With minimal transitional training and no infrastructure changes, the platform ensures continued mission operations.

F-15EX’s Open Mission Systems (OMS) architecture enables rapid insertion of the latest aircraft technologies, including a new electronic warfare system, advanced cockpit systems, and the latest mission systems and software capabilities.

The first eight F-15EX aircraft will be fielded at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, to support testing efforts.

Boeing vice-president and F-15 programme manager Prat Kumar said: “F-15EX brings together benefits of digital engineering, open mission systems and agile software development to keep it affordable and upgradable for decades to come.

“This means we can rapidly test and field new capabilities on F-15EX keeping our warfighters ahead of threats.”