Israel has sent a formal request to the US to purchase 25 F-15IA (F-15EX) Eagle II fighter jets with an eye to boosting its capabilities to strike Iran.
An official Letter of Request (LOR) was sent by the Israeli Defense Ministry to the US, Breaking Defense said citing industry sources. The LOR is the first step in the process that will now see Israel and the US negotiate over the exact number of jets and the price of the Boeing-manufactured warplanes.
The Defense Ministry and the US Embassy in Jerusalem both declined to comment on the report.
As already reported, Israel wanted to bolster both its fleet of F-35 stealth fighters and its F-15 fleet since 2019, but due to recent political instability, only the F-35 decision was carried out. Now, following the election of the new government last month, the decision was taken to move ahead with the F-15IA deal.
The military is now looking to add to and upgrade its existing fleet of F-15I Ra’am attack aircraft (which would then be designated F-15I+), which can carry the kind of heavy weapons Israel would need to penetrate Iran’s nuclear sites, most of which are buried deep underground.
The sources told Breaking Defense that the earliest Israel would likely receive the new jets would be in 2028, but that Israel would push for faster delivery. It also said Israel could opt to double the initial order of 25 aircraft.
The report added that Israel’s decision was made more urgent by the burgeoning defense ties between Iran and Russia and fears that Moscow could supply Iran with the advanced S-400 anti-aircraft defense system (as well as the Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jet).
Outgoing Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff Aviv Kohavi reiterated in a series of farewell interviews last week that Iran was the main focus of the Israeli military, which was working to ensure it had the capabilities to go it alone if necessary, to stop Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Kohavi told the Walla news site that a potential attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities was the “main task” faced by the army, and vowed that “the IDF would be ready to carry out its mission on the day of the order.”
Though they have been upgraded and refurbished in the interim decades, many of Israel’s F-15 fighter jets — known in Hebrew as the “Baz,” or “Falcon” — were first constructed and delivered in the 1970s, The Times of Israel reports.
If the deal goes through and Israel returns to purchasing F-15s, it would mark the first Boeing fighter jet acquisition by the Israeli Air Force (IAF) in two decades. In the years since, Israel has bought 100 F-16s and another 50 F-35 stealth jets from Boeing’s chief competitor, Lockheed Martin.
The F-15 has been produced in single-seat A and C models and two-seat B and D versions. The two-seat F-15E Strike Eagle version is a dual-role fighter that can engage both ground and air targets.
Boeing has continued to evolve the F-15 with advanced technology, and it is undefeated in air-to-air combat — 104 aerial victories and 0 defeats. Production continues today not only with the F-15EX but also with advanced models for several international customers.
The F-15EX is the latest iteration of the combat proven F-15, a twin-engine, high-performance, all-weather air superiority fighter known for its incredible acceleration and maneuverability.
The Eagle II carries more weapons than any other fighter in its class, and can launch hypersonic weapons up to 22 feet long and weighing up to 7,000 pounds.
The F-15EX features the Eagle Passive/Active Warning and Survivability System electronic warfare system to improve mission effectiveness and survivability for operators.
Photo credit: Boeing