On 23 May 2023, Al-Quwwat Al-Jawiyyah Al-Amiriyyah Al-Qatariyyah (QEAF, Qatar Emiri Air Force) F-15QA Advanced Eagle with FMS serial 17-0037 peformed its functional check flight (FCF). The fighter, using callsign Blue74, went up twice from the Boeing facilities at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (MO).
This Advanced Eagle, also known as the F-15QA Ababil, is the first of the final two aircraft of the original order. FMS 17-0038 is expected to follow soon.
The F-15QAs are part of a 2017 Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme, valued at USD 12 billion, and involved 36 Advanced Eagles, along with associated equipment and support services. The FMS serials for this batch were originally 17-0001 untill 17-0036, but two aircraft have not been taken up as they were diverted from the productionline as USAF F-15EX 20-0001 and 20-0002. So, 17-0037 and 17-0038 have been added instead.
It is expected that twelve more Advanced Eagles will be added under a direct sale, making up the total requirement of 48 aircraft. When these additional airframes are to be built with the ramp up of USAF F-15EX, Israeli F-15s and possibly Indian production starting to gather momentum remains to be seen.
One of the aircraft (FMS serial 17-0010) experienced a mishap on 18 May 2021, when the aircraft encountered serious trouble whilst on the runway at Belleville/Scott AFB - Midamerica Airport (IL) in which the wto pilots were forced to eject. The fighter is still under repairs and is not expected to be ready this year.
FCF details of the latest F-15QAs: 17-0035 (primer) 26 March 2023, 17-0036 (full colours) 5 May 2023 and 17-0037 (full colours) 23 May 2023.
The QEAF F-15QAs are operated by 51 Squadron Ababil ('Flock of Birds') as part of Flying Wing 5 at Al-Udeid Air Base.
Photo (just illustrative) by Josh Knights (Scramble Archive)