The Israeli Air Force operates a fleet of F-15 aircraft, including the F-15I, known as the Thunder. The model first landed in Israel in 1998. Photo courtesy of the Israeli air force
May 13 (UPI) -- Boeing has been awarded an $11.2 million contract for sustainment engineering services for F-15 fighter jets for Saudi Arabia and Israel.
The contract provides for post-production support tasks/services unique to the original equipment manufacturer as required to maintain an adequate level of continuous sustaining engineering and logistics support for the Air Force and foreign military sales, the U.S. Defense Department announce Friday.
No funds are being obligated at the time of award.
Israel last made a major buy of F-15s in the 1990s, according to Defense & Security Monitor.
Boeing is finishing a major 2009 F-15 order from Saudi Arabia. The Royal Saudi Air Force has the third largest number of F-15s in its fleet, behind Japan and the United States. In November, Boeing received a $14.5 million award to repair systems for the kingdom's F-15s
Work will be performed at Boeing's plant in St. Louis with the completion date expected by Nov. 9, 2027.
More than 1,500 of the fights have been built at the factory, but it's been 15 years since there built for the U.S. Air Force. Instead, the orders have been for other countries, including also Japan, Qatar, Singapore and South Korea. Qatar awaits 36 more F-15s as part of a $6.2 billion 2017 order that Boeing has already started.
Though the Pentagon is focusing on F-35 purchases, the Air Force has requested $7.8 billion for eight F-15s next year and 72 in the four years after that.
"The biggest ask from our customer, the Air Force, is rapid field deployment," Prat Kumar, a Boeing vice president and program manager of F-15 programs, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Unless we kind of invest ahead of the opportunity, we won't be in a position to respond to that. As you can see we are putting an effort into getting ready."
Ahead of approval from Congress, Boeing is planning for a production line that employs some 1,100 people in St. Louis.
"With the aging F-15 C/D fleet in need of a replacement, the F-15EX is the most cost-effective alternative to meet readiness targets, address rapidly evolving threats, and avoid capability gaps that no other tactical fighter in the inventory can fill," Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, a members of the Appropriations Committee.
He called the F-15 program "critical" to the country's defense.
"The F-15 offers the world's most advanced technologies and delivers more payload to the fight, more speed to target and more range than any fighter in the world," Boeing said on its website.
The original F-15, a twin-engine plane, was first made in 1972. It was built by McDonnell Douglas, which was purchased by Boeing. The first F-15B, a two-seat version called the Eagle, was delivered in 1974.
The single-seat F-15C and two-seat F-15D models entered the Air Force inventory beginning in 1979.
Boeing developed the F-15E, known as the Strike Eagle, to fly at a low altitude while maintaining a high speed, even during bad weather or at night. Its first flight was in 1989.
F-15C, F-15D, and F-15E models participated in Operation Desert Storm in Iraq as well as Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The F-15E later performed air-to-ground missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The F-15C and F-15D models are supplemented in U.S. service by the newer F-22 Raptor.