The first F-15QA Ababil combat aircraft for Qatar have departed Boeing’s Missouri production facility for the Gulf emirate.
Formally named the “Ababil,” after the flock of birds mentioned in the Quran, the most advanced version of the venerable F-15 family was developed for Qatar under a US$6.2-billion contract from the US Department of Defense.
Five Qatari-variant Advanced Eagles left St Louis Lambert International Airport on 27 October on the first leg of their nearly 12,000 km journey to their future home operation station of Al Udeid Air Base.
The August 25, 2021 ceremony came 16 months after the first prototype took to the air on April 23, 2020 from Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, during which it demonstrated its vertical climb capabilities. Since then, QEAF pilots have been undergoing pre-delivery pilot training, which will culminate in ferrying the first aircraft to Qatar later this year.
The departure was noted by flight tracking providers, and imagery of the aircraft lined up at St Louis prior to take off and arriving at their stop-off point at Royal Air Force Mildenhall in the United Kingdom was posted online. Neither the US Department of Defense (DoD), Boeing, nor the Qatari Emiri Air Force (QEAF) had officially announced the move at the time of publication.
“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,” says 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.”
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