Monday, September 27, 2021

Why Is Israel Rejecting Latest F-15EX Jets But Looks Interested To Acquire Older F-15 Fighters?

Israel and the US share a strong military partnership. The Jewish nation, which is already using American fighter jets — the Lockheed F-35 and the Boeing F-15, is likely to buy more aircraft from its closest ally.

Analysts say since Israel has not shown much interest in Boeing’s latest F-15EX, it could be eying the older F-15 fighter jets instead.

Last week, the US Air Force officially accepted the delivery of the first F-15EX fighter at Boeing’s St Louis production facility in Missouri.

The F-15EX fighter is the most advanced version of the F-15 and is expected to assist the USAF’s to meet its capacity requirements and boost its combat capabilities.

STAFF SGT. Dave Smith and SENIOR AIRMAN John Pusieski from the 58th Operational Support Squadron, 58th

The new fighters will be able to carry more munitions than the earlier versions and can launch hypersonic weapons, up to 22ft in length.

According to reports, the airframe of the fighter jets is supposed to be more cost-effective in terms of operation and acquisition. In addition, the F-15EX is likely to complement the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II fighters.

Why Israel Is Not Interested In F-15EX

Apart from the US, Israel deploys a mix of F-15 and F-35 fighters. However, according to reports, the latter does not have plans of purchasing the new F-15EX variant any time soon.

Boeing had earlier identified Israel and India as its potential clients for the F-15EX fighters.

As per Israel’s recent major procurement announcements, the country had formally approved plans for Boeing’s KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueling tankers and for the third squadron of F-35I ‘Adir’ stealth fighter jets.

However, there has been no mention of the country looking to acquire the most advanced versions of the F-15 Eagle fighter jets. So, why is Israel not keen on this new American fighter jet?

Prior to Washington’s decision to procure at least 144 F-15EX fighter jets to replace a major portion of the fleet of F-15C/D fighter jets, it had looked at the idea of modifying the older fighters to keep them flying for several decades.

However, the cost of upgrading the older fighter jets under the Golden Eagle roadmap would be extremely high. This is the reason why US Air Force opted for the F-15EX fighters.

Now, chances are high that the older unwanted F-15 fighters would be available for sale, something Israel might be looking at, according to Tyler Rogoway, who writes for TheDrive.

Israel had earlier acquired the F-15D fighter jets from the US at a reasonable price. If a similar deal could be forged between the two nations again, this would mean Israel could acquire the US Air Force’s older F-15 fighters at cheaper rates rather than purchasing the new F-15EX fighters, which would cost more than $80-90 million per fighter, Rogoway argues.

Israel Could Modify Older Fighters

One area in which the Middle East nation is exceptionally good at is modifying the fighter jets according to its needs.

The country has upgraded the F-15A/B/C/D ‘Baz’ as per its specific needs and turned the most capable air superiority fighters into long-range strike platforms.

Moreover, the Israeli F-15 fighters are seen flying without external fuel tanks by rather having conformal fuel tanks.  

The modified F-15 fighters serve as the ultimate multi-role fighter jets capable of using both American and Israeli weaponry over great distances. They also perform exceptionally well in the air-to-air domain, thus helping the Israeli Air Force protect its airspace.

According to experts, the fighters are modified in a manner so that they can even work as networking and satellite communications hubs and command and control assets, while also fulfilling their traditional roles.

Currently, Israel has 25 F-15I jets along with the F-35 fighters and new forms of weaponry. So, the country may not be looking to procure newer, fourth-generation fighter jets like the F-15EX.

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