As the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) was preparing to scrap the wings of 66 of its F-15S fighters that were being converted to the SA standard, the United States Air Force (USAF) stepped in to acquire the parts.
In 2018, Saudi Arabia chose to convert 66 F-15S jets to the SA standard, at a pace of one aircraft per month. The variant features “new and improved wings and fuselage, improved weapon systems, upgraded avionics, digital electronics and warning systems, an infrared search-and-track system, improved radar and fly-by–wire controls.”
Coincidentally, the USAF was on the lookout for new wings to equip its F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft. “With hundreds of flight hours on the books, F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft at the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex needed newer wings to keep the birds flying through 2040,” the facility explained in a press release on December 9, 2020. But according to the USAF, the production of new wings by Boeing would have taken five years and would have cost five times the price of a refurbished F-15S wing.
Thus, the USAF chose to purchase Royal Saudi Air Force F-15SA wings that were being removed during a fleet retrofit and scheduled for destruction. The deal is estimated to have saved $80 million on eight sets of wings in 2020, and could potentially save over $250 million with the acquisition of 42 more sets in the future.
“The purchase of the F-15SA wings will open up opportunities to procure other aircraft parts resulting from the F-15 Saudi Aircraft Conversion Program that will benefit the warfighter at a reduced cost,” Eric Wietstruk, F-15 Product Support manager in the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s F-15 Program Office at Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex. The recycled wings will be installed on the USAF F-15E aircraft during programmed depot maintenance in 2021.
(U.S. Air Force photo)