F-15QA Advanced Eagle [also known as F-15QA Ababil] with serial number FMS 17-0037 performed its first check flight [FCF] at St. Louis Lambert International Airport, Missouri, USA. This aircraft is the first of the last two aircraft of the original order. Testing and FMS 17-0038 are expected to begin soon.
Initially, FMS production numbers for Qatar were retained in the order of 17-0001 to 17-0036. However, during the assembly process, two aircraft were transferred to the USAF as F-15EX 20-0001 and 20-0002. Thus, to fulfill the Qatari order, aircraft numbers 17-0037 and 17-0038 were added to production.
One of the aircraft [serial number 17-0010] crashed on May 18, 2021, on the runway at Belleville / Scott Air Force Base [MidAmerica Airport, IL]. The pilots ejected. This fighter is still undergoing repairs and is unlikely to be ready for delivery to the Qatar Air Force this year.
In November 2016, the US State Department approved a potential delivery to Qatar under the Foreign Military Sales program of up to 72 F-15QA multi-role fighter jets, as well as contract-related armaments and services. The total value of the sale was estimated at $21.1 billion.
On June 14, 2017, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Qatar’s Minister of State for Defense Khaled bin Mohammed al-Attiyah signed a preliminary agreement of intent to sell F-15QA fighter jets to the Qatari Air Force.
In December 2017, the US Department of Defense awarded Boeing its first $6.173 billion contract to supply 36 new F-15QA configuration aircraft to the Qatar Air Force under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Boeing began assembly of the first F-15QA [s.n. 17-0001] in August 2018. Its flight tests began in April 2020.
It was assumed that the delivery of F-15QAs to the customer would end in 2023 and they would replace the fleet of aging French Mirage-2000-5.
The contract contains options for the delivery of another 36 aircraft, in which case production will continue until 2026. According to Scramble.nl, we are currently talking about an option for only 12 units. F-15QA, although it is not yet known when these additional aircraft will be produced given the increased order for the F-15EX from the US Air Force and Israel.
By 2024, Boeing will establish a training center for the training of flight and technical personnel of the 51st Ababil Squadron [“Flock of Birds”] as part of the 5th Air Wing of the Qatar Air Force at Al Udeid Air Base, and will also supply of spare parts and provision of services – technical support in Qatar after delivery of the aircraft.
As reported, the F-15QA features next-generation technologies, including fly-by-wire, a digital cockpit, upgraded sensors, radar and electronic warfare equipment, and a high-performance onboard computer.
The first F-15QA [QA500] fighter jet, demonstrated by Boeing on August 25, 2021, together with the US Air Force Command and Qatar at the plant in St. Louis, was equipped with several weapons, including the AIM- Air-to-Air Missile 9X Sidewinder, air-to-air UR AIM-120 AMRAAM, AGM-84A Harpoon anti-ship missiles, GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition [JDAM] precision bomb.
The aircraft was also equipped with AN / AAQ-28 [V] Lightning canister target targeting system and an outboard AN / AAQ-33 Sniper target targeting canister, an integrated infrared detection and tracking system AN / AAS-42 Tiger Eyes [IRST].