In a formal roll-out ceremony for the Qatar Air Force, Boeing has unveiled the most advanced F-15 jets at the St. Louis facility in Missouri, the company said in a press release. Called the F-15QA Ababil, the fighter jet has been named after the legendary protector birds, Boeing said on its YouTube channel.
Boeing was awarded a $6.2 billion contract for F-15QA in 2017. As per the contract, the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) will procure 36 such aircraft, delivery for which is expected to begin later this year. The number of aircraft to be supplied this year has not been revealed, although Boeing did confirm that it began pre-delivery pilot training earlier this year.
Present during the roll-out ceremony was a team of US Air Force, a coalition partner for the QEAF. Lt. Gen. Greg Guillot, commander of 9th Air Force said, "The rollout of the F-15QA is momentous, not just in terms of capability but also in terms of the enhanced partnership it represents. The relationship the United States shares with Qatar is critical to the stability and security of the central command area of responsibility, and we are grateful for our coalition partner’s continued focus on building interoperability and combined readiness."
With a top speed of 1,875 mph (3,017 kph) and a max ceiling of 70,000 feet (21,336 m), the F-15 has many aerial combat victories, according to this infographic from Boeing. With maximum weapons load of 29,000 pounds (13,154 kg) and newly added weapon stations, the Advanced F-15 can carry 12 air-to-air missiles or 24 air-to-ground missiles. This was further illustrated in the roll-out video which showcases the Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder, AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, the Boeing AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile, and the Raytheon AGM-88 HARM (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile).
“Driven by digital engineering and advanced manufacturing, these aircraft represent a transformational leap for the F-15. The F-15QA will enhance the superiority of the QEAF with more speed, range, and payload than any fighter in the world,” said Prat Kumar, vice president of the F-15 program. "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."
As per the contract agreement, Boeing will establish and operate an aircrew and maintenance training center at the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar through 2024. Once the 36 aircraft are delivered, the company will also provide in-country spares and logistics support, the press release said.
And, for the US Air Force, we've previously reported that Boeing is building the F-15 EX.