Boeing has officially rolled out the Qatar Emiri Air Force’s first F-15QA, with the aircraft also officially dubbed “Ababil,” a reference to the protective ‘flock of birds’ mentioned in the Quran, in a ceremony at Boeing’s St. Louis facility.
The ceremony was attended by the Qatari Ambassador to the United States, Meshal Hamad Al Thani, as well as Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and State Minister of Defense Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah, alongside Qatar Emiri Air Force officers. American representatives at the ceremony included Defense Security Cooperation Agency director Heidi Grant, Missouri governor Michael Parson, and Boeing Defense, Space and Security CEO Leanne Carret.
In a speech, Carret thanked Qatari officials for the 2017 contract for 36 F-15QAs, saying that the design became the basis of the F-15EX Eagle II, with the United States Air Force now planning to procure 144 F-15EXs. She then unveiled the aircraft on display, which carried a large array of weapons ranging from AIM-9X and AIM-120 air-to-air missiles, a variety of Joint Direct Attack Munition GPS guided bombs, as well as a AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missile and an AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile.
Boeing says that the “first set” of the 36 F-15QAs on order will be delivered to Qatar by the end of this year, once pre-delivery pilot training is completed. The company has provided the QEAF with maintenance and logistics support for the training, and will similarly do so in Qatar following the arrival of the aircraft there, alongside establishing and operating an aircrew and maintenance training center for the QEAF at Al Udeid Air Base through 2024.
“The rollout of the F-15QA is momentous, not just in terms of capability but also in terms of the enhanced partnership it represents. The relationship the United States shares with Qatar is critical to the stability and security of the central command area of responsibility, and we are grateful for our coalition partner’s continued focus on building interoperability and combined readiness,” said Lt. Gen. Greg Guillot, commander of 9th Air Force. “It is a privilege and honor to stand with our Qatari counterparts this day and every day.”
“The Qatar F-15QA program further enhanced next-generation technologies in the advanced F-15 such as the fly-by-wire flight controls, an all-glass digital cockpit and contemporary sensors, radar and electronic warfare capabilities,” said Prat Kumar, vice president of the F-15 program. “Driven by digital engineering and advanced manufacturing, these aircraft represent a transformational leap for the F-15. The F-15QA will enhance the superiority of the QEAF with more speed, range and payload than any fighter in the world.”
The F-15QA made its first flight in April 2020. The F-15QA is equipped with a sophisticated AN/APG-82(V)1 active electronically scanned array radar and an AN/AAS-42 Tiger Eye infrared search and tracking (IRST) system. One pre-delivery aircraft was involved in a runway incident in May, when its American pilots ejected from the F-15QA after it departed the runway following landing.
Additional reporting Yusuf Çetiner & Matthew Moss