Boeing rolled out its new F-15QA for the Qatar Emiri Air Force on this week, one of six to be delivered to Qatar later this year. Photo courtesy of Boeing.
Aug. 27 (UPI) -- The Qatar Emiri Air Force will soon have its first set of F-15QA jets after the aircraft's unveiling on Wednesday at Boeing's factory in St. Louis.
The Pentagon awarded the contract to Boeing last November to develop the F-15QA, which it has described as the most advanced version of the jet to date.
The first set of jets will be ferried to Qatar later this year after pilots are trained to operate the aircraft, Boeing said in a statement that stressed the strategic importance of the relationship between the U.S. and the Middle Eastern country.
"The relationship the United States shares with Qatar is critical to the stability and security of the central command area of responsibility, and we are grateful for our coalition partner's continued focus on building interoperability and combined readiness," Lt. Gen. Greg Guillot, commander of 9th Air Force, said in the statement.
The announcement touted the F-15QA's technological enhancements that improve its speed, range and payload. The upgrades include fly-by-wire flight controls, an all-glass digital cockpit, contemporary sensors, radar and electronic warfare capabilities.
The aircraft will also include a range of weapons, such as the AIM-9X Sidewinder, AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile, AGM-88 HARM high-speed anti-radiation missile, reports Military Leak.
The first delivery will include six F-15QA jets, with its entire fleet expected to be fully operational by 2023.
After the F-15QA jets are delivered, Boeing said it will provide logistics support and operate an aircrew and maintenance training center for the Qatar Emiri Air Force at Al Udeid Air Base through 2024.
The Pentagon last year announced that Boeing has received a $240 million five-year contract for the F-15QA program.
The company was also awarded another $68 million for maintenance and logistics in support of Qatar's F-15 program. Boeing completed the first successful flight of the aircraft in April last year.
The F-15QA will form the basis of the even more advanced F-15EX "Eagle II."
In 2017, the Pentagon awarded Boeing a $6.2 billion contract to manufacture 36 of the F-15EX jets. The U.S. Air Force is expecting to obtain 144 F-15EX aircraft, the first of which it received in March.