Boeing completed the first flight of the F-15QA fighter developed for the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF), which took off and landed from Lambert International Airport in St. Louis during its 90-minute mission today.
Through investments in the F-15QA platform, the most advanced version of the F-15 ever; and partnership with the US Air Force, Boeing is preparing to build a domestic variant of the advanced fighter, the F-15EX.
The 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, a Boeing release said.
“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,” said Col. Ahmed Al Mansoori, commander, QEAF F-15 Wing.
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.
Boeing’s flight test team, led by Chief Test Pilot Matt Giese, implemented a precise mission checklist to test the multirole aircraft’s capabilities. A test team monitoring the data in real time confirmed the aircraft performed as planned.
“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,” said Prat Kumar, Boeing vice president and F-15 program manager."
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 aircraft to the customer in 2021.
The F-15QA brings with it technologies such as the world's fastest mission computer, fly-by-wire flight controls, digital cockpit; modernized sensors, radar and electronic warfare.