Boeing has formally rolled out its new F-15QA ‘Ababil’ fighter for the Qatar Emiri Air Force, with ferry flights to commence later this year. Ababil means a flock of birds. It refers to the miraculous birds in Islamic belief that protected the Kaaba in Makka from the Aksumite elephant army of Abraha. It includes unmatched payload, range and speed. F-15QA brings digital fly-by-wire controls, an advanced cockpit system with glass displays and state-of-the-art electronic weapon systems and includes almost three miles of high-speed data cable to ensure it overcomes any threat. The roll out took place at the company’s St. Louis factory, where the F-15 is produced.
The company provided a picture of three F-15QA ‘Ababil’ fighters airborne with a two-tone air superiority grey camouflage scheme. The F-15QA also forms the basis of the developmental F-15EX “Eagle II”, of which USAF is set to obtain up to 144 examples. A video of the launch ceremony shows the aircraft with an illustrative range of weapons, including the AIM-9X Sidewinder and AMRAAM (Advanced Mediume Range Air-to-Air Missile) air-to-air missiles, the AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile, JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition), and the AGM-88 HARM (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile).
The first set of F-15QA ‘Ababil’ fighter will be ferried to Qatar later this year following the completion of pre-delivery pilot training. Boeing has been providing maintenance and logistics support for the QEAF during pre-delivery pilot training, which began earlier this year. In addition, Boeing will establish and operate an aircrew and maintenance training center for the Qatar Emiri Air Force at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar through 2024 while also providing in-country spares and logistics support once aircraft are delivered. The first delivery will consist of six F-15QAs and the entire fleet will be fully operational by 2023.
The F-15QA (Qatar Advanced) is a variant for the Qatar Emiri Air Force. In November 2016, the US State Department approved the sale of up to 72 F-15QAs to Qatar in a $21.1 billion deal that included weapons, support, equipment, and training. During June 2017, Qatar signed a deal to buy 36 F-15QAs for US$6.2 billion. On 13 April 2020, the first F-15QA took its maiden flight. On 22 June 2021, Boeing announced that it will integrate an Elbit Systems anti-jamming systems into F-15QA, the anti-jamming systems allow F-15QA to fly into heavy electromagnetic interference environment uninterrupted.