In addition to continuing purchasing F-35 multirole stealth fighters, Israeli Air Force (IAF) decides to upgrade its dependable F-15 fleet with improved model capable of carrying 13 tons of explosives with advanced avionics. The Ynet news website reported on 19 November that there had been an official announcement that the IAF would acquire a more advanced version of the fighter called the F-15IA in addition to more Lockheed Martin F-35s, 50 of which have already been ordered.
The purchase has already been approved by the government, and the first of the aircraft is expected to arrive in Israel as soon as 2023. In the meantime, the IAF will continue purchasing stealth attack aircrafts. It indicated that the F-15IA is the Israeli designation for the F-15 Advanced Eagle. A Saudi version called the F-15SA is already in production and Qatar has ordered one called the F-15QA, the main difference between the two being the Qataris have opted for the Large Area Display cockpit made by the Israeli company Elbit. The F-15 IA performance, considered to be superior to the older F-15 aircraftâ€”which has been in IAF use since 1998â€”is what swayed the decision.
F-15IA can fly longer distances, has higher survivability, more advanced avionic systems, and a much better ordnance-carrying capacity. The jet can carry up to 13 tons of explosivesâ€”a capability unmatched by any other attack aircraft. In the field of air-to-air warfare, the F-15 IA plane is capable of carrying 11 missiles, in addition to 28 heavy, smart bombs for ground targets. the aircraft has the capability to carry all the weapons at the IAF’s disposal, including unique Israeli-made missiles, laser and electro-optical systems, and more.
There was initially US opposition to Israel’s acquisition of the F-15IA if it resulted in a reduction of Israel’s F-35 order. It cited a document approved by Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman shortly before he resigned on 14 November as saying that the IAF still intends to field three F-35 squadrons, each with 25 aircraft. The purchase will be funded from US military aid money, which comes to some $3.8 billion annually, over the next decade as the new planes are delivered. But there was no official confirmation of acquiring a more advanced version of the Boeing F-15 multirole fighter.