Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF)’s first Boeing F-15QA fighter jet performed its maiden test flight, the country’s Ministry Of Defense (MOD) announced.
The jet demonstrated its next-generation capabilities during its 90-minute mission. The flight took off and landed from Lambert International Airport in St. Louis.
طائرات (اف-١٥) القطرية تقوم بأول رحلاتها التجريبية pic.twitter.com/kUvOrBvqLR
— وزارة الدفاع – دولة قطر (@MOD_Qatar) April 14, 2020
“We are very proud of this accomplishment and looking forward with great excitement to the continued successes of this program,” said Col. Ahmed Al Mansoori, commander, QEAF F-15 Wing. “This successful first flight is an important milestone that brings our squadrons one step closer to flying this incredible aircraft over the skies of Qatar.”
Boeing’s flight test team, led by Chief Test Pilot Matt Giese, implemented a precise mission checklist to test the multirole aircraft’s capabilities. The aircraft demonstrated its maneuverability during its vertical “Viking” takeoff and by pulling nine Gs, or nine times the force of earth’s gravity, in its subsequent maneuvering in the test airspace. Checks of systems such as avionics and radar were also successful. A test team monitoring the data in real time 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 success for the warfighter.”
F-15QA (Qatar Advanced) is the most advanced version of the F-15 jet ever manufactured. Qatar’s F-15QA is similar to the F-15SA (Saudi Advanced) jet operated by the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF). The Advanced Eagle is an upgraded variant of Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle which is, in turn, a development of the legacy McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle.
The U.S. 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 aircraft to the customer in 2021. In addition, Boeing was awarded a U.S. Air Force foreign military sale contract in 2019 for F-15QA aircrew and maintenance training for the QEAF.
The F-15QA brings to its operators 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. Increases in reliability, sustainability and maintainability allow defense operators to affordably remain ahead of current and evolving threats.
Through investments in the F-15QA platform and partnership with the U.S. Air Force, Boeing is now preparing to build a domestic variant of the advanced fighter, the F-15EX. F-15EX became a program of record for the Air Force when the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020 was signed on Dec. 30, 2019. In January, the Air Force issued public notifications of its intent to award sole-source a contract to Boeing for eight jets. Future plans call for as many as 144 aircraft.
Qatar’s F-15QA Procurement timeline:
In November 2016, the U.S. State Department approved the sale of up to 72 F-15QA aircraft to Qatar in a $21.1 billion deal that includes weapons, support, equipment, and training.
On 14 June 2017, it was announced that Qatar had signed a deal to purchase 36 F-15QAs for a cost of US$12 billion for which a Letter of Intent (LoI) was signed between al-Attiyah and U.S. Secretary of Defence James Mattis.
In December 2017, Boeing, the manufacturer of the aircraft, was awarded a contract, worth around $6 billion, that provides for the foreign military sales (FMS) requirement to procure the new F-15QA fighter jets for the Qatar Emiri Air Force. The undefinitized contract action contract was awarded by the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. FMS funds in the amount of around $3 billion was obligated at the time of the award.
Boeing began production of the first F-15QA in mid-2018.
In addition to the F-15QA jets, Qatar has also ordered 36 Dassault Rafale and 24 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets. The first Rafale jet was formally delivered to the Qatar Emiri Air Force during a ceremony at the Dassault Aviation’s Merignac facility on Feb. 6, 2019, and the first batch of five Rafale fighter jets arrived in Qatar on June 5.