F-15QA fighter jet makes maiden test flight

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Boeing has successfully completed the first flight of the F-15QA fighter, an updated version of the fighter jet being developed for the Qatar Emiri Air Force.

The jet demonstrated its next-generation capabilities during a 90-minute mission that took off and landed from Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Missouri on April 13, 2020.

Colonel Ahmed Al Mansoori, commander of the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) F-15 Wing said, “This successful first flight is an important milestone that brings our squadrons one step closer to flying this incredible aircraft over the skies of Qatar.”

Boeing’s flight test team, which was led by chief test pilot Matt Giese, tested the multirole aircraft’s capabilities using with a checklist of maneuvers including a vertical “Viking” takeoff and by pulling 9g in  subsequent maneuvering in the test airspace. Checks of systems such as avionics and radar were also successful. A test team monitoring the data in real time confirmed the aircraft performed as planned.

Boeing was awarded the US$6.2 billion contract in 2017 to manufacture 36 F-15 fighter jets for the QEAF and is expected to begin delivering the aircraft  in 2021. Boeing was also awarded a contract in 2019 to conduct F-15QA aircrew and maintenance training for the QEAF.

“This successful first flight is an important step in providing the QEAF an aircraft with best-in-class range and payload,” said Prat Kumar, Boeing’s vice president and F-15 program manager. “The advanced F-15QA not only offers game changing capabilities but is also built using advanced manufacturing processes which make the jet more efficient to manufacture.

“In the field, the F-15 costs half the cost per flight hour of similar fighter aircraft and delivers far more payload at far greater ranges. That’s success for the warfighter.”

The F-15QA features fly-by-wire flight controls, a digital cockpit, updated sensors, radar, and electronic warfare capabilities and the world’s fastest mission computer.

Boeing is also to build a domestic variant of the advanced fighter, the F-15EX. The contract, which initially calls for eight F-15EX but could supply up to 144 of the aircraft to the US Air Force, was signed off at the end of 2019.

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 20 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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