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

Feb 01 2017 - 9 Comments

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.



  • Jerry Hatfield

    I worked at KKAB in the 80’s with the Northrop Peace Hawk program (F-5’s) when the first F-15 began to arrive. I expect things stress quite different there 30 years later. It was actually very laid back (Fur Saudi Arabia) in the early 80’s.

  • leroy

    I doubt that the Saudi pilots are worth a damn, but they sure did buy some nice aircraft. The 3rd best on the planet behind the F-22 and F-35. Which is #1? That’s a toss-up between the Raptor and Lightning 2, but the Eagle definitely takes 3rd place.

  • KLD

    Considering the extremely deep pockets of the Saudi’s, I wonder how many hours flight time their pilots get per month?

  • alexander the new yorker

    Why is the USA selling any weapons at all to this brutal, extremist, feudal regime ??

    • FoilHatWearer

      Might as well send them straight to the Chinese and Soviets.

  • drinking12many

    I would love to see the US buy a few squadrons of those to replace older 15s/augment the F-22s since we will be flying them for a while longer.

  • Goran

    Great to see 152 advanced jets being sold to the brutal Arab extremists who support ISIS and chop people’s heads off on public squares. :)

    • Παλιουρας

      Don’t worry they are unable to make good use of them !

  • leroy

    “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 …”.

    The Saudis had no choice. The would love to buy F-35s in order to put Iran at risk, but U.S. policy is that Israel will always maintain a qualitative edge. F-35 was off limits to Saudi Arabia, and without the JSF the Saudis are defenseless against raids conducted by the mighty IAF. Israel owns the skies of the Middle East, and every capital in Arabia knows it.

    If peace comes, it will have to be on Israeli terms. All the Arab nations militaries combined couldn’t defeat the IDF/IAF, as has been proven time and time again since 1947. The Israelis are simply too dominant. And before you bring up the skirmish with Hezbollah in ’06 let me assure you. Had Israel pulled out all the stops Lebanon would now be controlled by Jerusalem. That they didn’t was because they were playing nice. Too nice. Can’t do that and survive in the ME.