A $6.2 billion order from the government of last year Qatar for 36 F-15QA (Qatari Advanced) fighters is the latest in a long line of successes for the Eagle. In fact, the Boeing heavyweight is enjoying something of a renaissance, having scratched around for new business a decade ago. Today, money from Qatar and from Saudi Arabia has injected new life into the St Louis-based program that is now marketed as the Advanced F-15, and which has set a new benchmark for the fighter that first flew 46 years ago.
Steve Parker, Boeing’s vice-president of F-15 programs says the Eagle is going to be around for a long time. ‘We’re happy with where it is now. The beast is still unbelievable and it’s only getting better.’
The F-15QA will be the most capable variant to date, building on the already-impressive F-15SA for Saudi Arabia by adding new 10 x 19-in Large Area Displays (LADs) in both cockpits and adding the new AN/APG-82(V)1 Advanced Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar that is also currently being retrofitted to US Air Force F-15Es. Parker told Combat Aircraft: ‘The old days of the F-15 trying to hang in there are gone — we are foot-to-the-floor and seeing a lot of interest.’
The Advanced F-15’s payload is at the center of its capabilities. Adding fly-by-wire has enabled the opening up of stations 1 and 9 — the new outer wing hardpoints. Boeing’s Amber Rack is featured on the fly-by-wire F-15. This means the Saudi and Qatari jets can fly with a standard 12 air-to-air missiles. Adding the Amber Rack to the conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) allows for up to 22 missiles, or a mix of air-to-ground stores.
Boeing is also developing structural upgrades for the new Qatari aircraft that will have read-across for prospective USAF service-life extension programs. ‘We are also re-mastering the Qatari wing with proprietary technology, which takes cost out. That will also be available for the [US] Air Force for the F-15C and E.’
Parker says the F-15QA ‘comes off the Saudi pedigree.’ The Qatari aircraft will also be the first with the new 10×19-in large-area displays, plus a new low-profile head-up display (HUD). Parker says the LAD is attracting a lot of interest from current F-15 customers, with four air forces already interested such a cockpit upgrade. ‘There’s amazing processing power in the display itself,’ he says. Adding that it’s powered by the new Advanced Display Core Processor (ADCP) II, a common mission computer with ‘tremendous growth potential’.
The F-15QA order has taken the F-15 line at St Louis out to 2022, and Parker sees good potential for more business. ‘I expect us to go to the full order of 72 aircraft for Qatar.’
For more details on the F-15, it appears as our feature article in the forthcoming May issue of Combat Aircraft.
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