Up close and personal with the first Saudi F-15SA, the most advanced Eagle ever built

This stunning air-to-air video shows the most advanced variant of the Eagle recently delivered to the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF).

The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) has officially received its first Boeing F-15SA multirole jets in a ceremony celebrating the 50th anniversary of the King Faisal Air College in Riyadh on Jan. 25, 2017.

Equipped with the APG-63V3 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a digital glass cockpit, JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mouted Cueing System), Digital Electronic Warfare System/Common Missile Warning System (DEWS/CMWS), IRST (Infra Red Search and Track) system, and able to carry a wide array of air-to-air and air-to-surface weaponry, including the AIM-120C7 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile) and the AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, the AGM-84 SLAM-ERs, the AGM-88 HARM (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile) and the GBU-39 SDBs (Small Diameter Bombs) on 11 external hardpoints, the F-15SA, derived from the F-15E Strike Eagle, is the most advanced Eagle variant ever produced.

Back in 2010, the RSAF requested 84 new-built F-15SA jets and upgrade package for 68 existing Saudi F-15S fighters for a total of 152 multirole advanced Eagles through a Foreign Military Sale: a contract worth 29.4 billion USD that included logistics, spares, maintenance support and weapons was eventually signed on Dec. 29, 2011.

Therefore, instead of the 5th gen. F-35 Lightning II, Saudis (that already operate the 4th gen. Eurofighter Typhoon) opted for a 4.5th generation jet able to perform several missions, including SEAD/DEAD (Suppression/Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses), OCA (Offensive Counter Air) and Air Interdiction with precision guided munitions from stand-off distance.

The newest aircraft’s predecessor, the Saudi F-15S, have taken part in the air strikes in Yemen, as part of Operation Decisive Storm, the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen, since Mar. 26 2015. A RSAF F-15S crashed in the Gulf of Aden during the opening day of the air war; its two pilots ejected safely and were recovered from the sea by a USAF HH-60G rescue helicopter. Although Houthi and Iranian sources stated that the Eagle was shot down, Saudi and Arab coalition authorities denied such reports.

The first F-15SAs arrived at King Khalid Air Base (KKAB) in Saudi Arabia via RAF Lakenheath, on Dec. 13, 2016, the day after the Israeli received their first 5th generation F-35I.

The first aircraft were assigned to the 55th Sqn at KKAB.

The following epic footage (produced by Combat Aircraft’s editor Jamie Hunter and Bob Hayes) shows the first F-15SAs, flying in Saudi Arabia.

Enjoy.

 

Warbird Digest
About David Cenciotti 3633 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.