Boeing successfully completed the first flight of the F-15QA fighter, the most advanced version of the F-15 jet ever manufactured. This variant is built using advanced manufacturing processes that make it more efficient to manufacture and offer much more payload over a longer distance. Developed for the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF), the aircraft demonstrated its next-generation capabilities during its 90-minute flight that took off and landed from Lambert International Airport in St. Louis.
The aircraft demonstrated its maneuverability during its high-powered vertical “Viking” takeoff and by pulling nine Gs, or nine times the force of earth’s gravity, in subsequent maneuvers in the test airspace. During the flight, the engineers also monitored systems such as avionics and radar, and they confirmed the aircraft performed as planned.
“This successful first flight is an important step in providing the QEAF an aircraft with best-in-class range and payload,” said Prat Kumar, Boeing vice president, and F-15 program manager. “The advanced F-15QA not only offers game-changing capabilities but is also built using advanced manufacturing processes which make the jet more efficient to manufacture. In the field, the F-15 costs half the cost per flight hour of similar fighter aircraft and delivers far more payload at far greater ranges. That’s a success for the warfighter.”
The F-15QA fighter offers its operators the next-generation technologies, such as fly-by-wire flight controls, digital cockpit, modernized sensors, radar, and electronic warfare capabilities, and the world’s fastest mission computer. Increased reliability, sustainability, and maintenance capabilities allow defense operators to stay affordable at the cost of current and evolving threats.
The US Department of Defense awarded Boeing a $ 6.2 billion contract in 2017 to manufacture 36 F-15 fighter jets for the QEAF. Boeing will begin delivering the aircraft to the customer in 2021. In addition, Boeing received a sales contract from the US Air Force in 2019 for the F-15QA crew and maintenance training for the QEAF.
Boeing is now preparing to build a domestic variant of the advanced fighter, the F-15EX. In January, the Air Force issued public notifications of its intent to award sole-source a contract to Boeing to build eight of the fighters, leading to a possible fleet of up to 144.