Around this time last year, Israel flat out denied that they would consider buying any F-15 Silent Eagle aircraft, because “they could not come close to the potential of the F-35”.
Flash forward one year, one that has seen the F-35 program decline into possibilities of total cancellation and a price overrun of nearly $150 million per airframe. A new report suggests that Israel may buy into the F-15SE program in order to fill in a capability gap from the F-35. They currently operate 25 F-15I’s, which give them (and will continue to) the largest range in their inventory. A new order of F-15SE’s would have a flyaway cost less than 100 million, and further the country’s airborne defense range. It’s important to note that the F-35 is not an air superiority fighter, something that the Middle East desperately needs these days.
Saudi Arabia, South Korea, UAE, and Now Israel. Yet the production line will be on hiatus in less than three months. Although Boeing recently stated they would self-fund the line for one year in order to capture these orders.
The first F-15I fly’s over St. Louis in 1997.
A recent report suggests that Israel has posted numerous questions and fears about the potential sale of 84 F-15SA’s as they think the F-15’s could surpass their F-15I’s (built in the 90’s), which would affect air superiority in the middle east. The report also states that President Barack Obama had a long talk with Saudi King Abdullah last week about the entire Saudi-US deal, which includes a wide array of aircraft and arms making it the largest International sale in United States history.
It was only last year that Israel stated they were not interested in an improved F-15 as the F-35 would be far more capable than any F-15SA. Now that some time has passed, Israel seems to think they will no longer hold the upper hand because of the delays with acquiring F-35 aircraft.
If granted, the Saudi F-15 Deal would keep the production line going until 2018 and would keep thousands of jobs worldwide intact, as well as one of America’s most important machines. The F-15 production line recently surpassed a 40 year milestone of continuous production and has the potential to be backlogged for more than 125 aircraft if the Saudi and South Korean orders are confirmed.