skip to main content

First F-15QAs head for Qatar

Seen during pre-delivery trials in the United States, the first of an official 36 F-15QA combat aircraft for the QEAF are now en route to Qatar. (Boeing)

The first F-15QA Ababil combat aircraft for Qatar have departed Boeing's Missouri production facility for the Gulf emirate.

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 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.

News of the first ferry flight came two months after Boeing presented the first F-15QA to US and Qatari dignitaries at a ceremony in St Louis. That event also saw the aircraft given the name Ababil, after a flock of birds that have particular significance in the Quran.

The QEAF is officially contracted to receive 36 F-15QAs in a deal signed in December 2017. However, since at least May 2020, the DoD has repeatedly referred to a buy of 48 aircraft (the State Department initially cleared Qatar to buy 72 aircraft, so any expanded procurement would be in line with current Congressional approvals). Initial operating capability for the QEAF F-15QA fleet is scheduled for the third quarter of 2022, with deliveries of the 36 officially recorded, because of run through to early 2023.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...