Yes I understood about the additional drag and mass of the conformal tanks and targeting pod.
The latest fighter pilot podcast looked at the F-15E and there was some very interesting comments made by two guests who, being posted to the T&E squadron, have clear insight.
The first was that the E always flies with the CFTs and its role is A2G and without the CFTs the jet has minimal stores locations. It also always flies with the SNIPER and LANTIRN pods. That typifies how the USAF sees the aircraft and while the guests spoke about how the aircraft does do A2A it is not the primary mission but a subset. In turn they emphasized that the F-15C community only do A2A and therefore no surprise that is one of the reasons they have such a high proficiency at it.
The other interesting comment was that although the F-15E CFTs adds a significant amount of fuel to the aircraft it was actually more draggy that an F-15C flying with two EFTs. Neither aircraft likes to fly with the centreline EFT which apparently is a lot more draggy than the wing mounted EFT. The specific comment was that on a long distance flight the F-15C with two wing tanks had more fuel remaining at the end of the flight than an F-15E with CFTs and no wing tanks. (of course doesn't stop the F-15E from adding the wing tanks as well but both jets can host CFTs).
If we compared the configs an F-15C with full internal fuel, 13455 lbs, and two wing tanks, 4000 lbs each, has a fuel load of approx. 21,500 lbs. The F-15E has the same internal fuel load but the CFTs add approx. 10,000 lbs or fuel for a total of 23,500 lbs. So 2,000 lbs more fuel but in an arrangement that weighs and creates enough drag that the airframe is less aerodynamic than an F-15C with two wing tanks. The statement was also made that the E, with its standard config of CFTs and pods, cannot perform A2A the way a C can (again should be no surprise).
So my suggestion is… the F-15EX in ANG service will not fly with CFTs or SNIPER/LANTIRN pods and therefore achieve higher performance than both C and E aircraft in USAF service. They will have the CFTs available for use, perhaps enough per squadron to do long distance transits, but that will not be a regular feature of the aircraft. Additionally, with the expanded wing stations the aircraft will fly with a standard load of 12 AAMs, two on each outer wing station, two on the inner stations with two EFTs and four on the hips.
Essentially more likely in this config, (but image the aircraft has no CFTs)
Than this config,
It would be interesting to know how much additional weight/drag is added by the outer wing stations (with oylon and two AAMs) compared to the weight/drag of the CFTs (and the additional weapons stations the CFTs may provide) and whether the outer stations may not be used in favour of CFT installation or vice versa.