Boeing rolled out the first batch of the F-15QA, a modern variant of the F-15 specifically tailored for the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF). Amid the ceremony, the aircraft name was revealed to be Ababil, after a bird of prey from Islamic mythology.
“The Qatar F-15QA program further enhanced next-generation technologies in the advanced F-15 such as the fly-by-wire flight controls, an all-glass digital cockpit and contemporary sensors, radar and electronic warfare capabilities,” commented Prat Kumar, the vice president of the F-15 program. “Driven by digital engineering and advanced manufacturing, these aircraft represent a transformational leap for the F-15.”
The first F-15QA fighter jets will be ferried to Qatar by the end of 2021. By then, QEAF pilots will have received pre-delivery training, which began earlier in the year. The aircraft are to be based at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, with a facility to be built by Boeing by 2024.
Qatar ordered 36 F-15QA fighters with an option for 36 more, for a total contract valued at around $12 billion.
The improved fighter jet served as the basis for the domestic version that Boeing is to develop for the United States Air Force; the F-15EX, also known as Eagle II. Eight fighters are to be assembled initially, with future plans for up to 144 aircraft.
While the aging airframe is not up to par with the 5th generation fighter, it should eventually provide the USAF with a cheaper alternative to carry out missions of airspace and base defense.