The delivery of the first lot of Boeing F-15EX fighters to the US Air Force has hit a hurdle as production issues have caused significant delays, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has announced in a new report.
GAO’s Weapon Systems Annual Assessment reveals that the first Lot 1B aircraft, originally scheduled for delivery in December 2022, will now be delayed by six months, according to Boeing officials.
“The primary driver of these delays was supplier quality problems related to a critical component in the forward fuselage assembly that ensures safety of flight,” the report reads.
In addition to supplier quality problems, a report from the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) has revealed that Boeing also encountered challenges due to a design error in the tooling used during production. This design flaw resulted in inaccurately drilled holes for windscreen installation on the third through sixth aircraft of the first lot. However, Boeing has since taken corrective measures by making adjustments to the drilling tool to address the problem.
These production-related issues have not only impacted the delivery of the Lot 1B aircraft but have also caused delays in the production of the Lot 2 aircraft. Each Lot 2 aircraft has now been delayed by an additional two months as a result of the challenges faced during Lot 1B production.
“Program officials said that the issue was identified before it affected the seventh aircraft and Boeing plans to redrill the holes on affected aircraft before beginning production of the Lot 2 aircraft,” the report explains.
GAO has highlighted that if the delivery of additional Lot 1B aircraft extends beyond July 2023, it will pose significant challenges to the program meeting its scheduled milestone dates. These milestones include achieving initial operational capability and full-rate production in 2023.
The latest iteration of the F-15 Eagle air superiority aircraft, the F-15EX features an increased payload capacity, fly-by-wire controls, a digital cockpit, modernized sensors, radars, and electronic warfare capabilities. The F-15EX is expected to eventually replace older F-15C/D models and refresh the USAF F-15 fleet.