Boeing has completed the first test flight of the Royal Saudi Air Force’s (RSAF) new F-15 Saudi Advanced (SA) fighter aircraft at its facility in St. Louis, Missouri, US.
Carried out with the US Air Force (USAF), the successful test flight addressed all test objectives required to support the aircraft’s on-schedule development programme.
Air Force Life Cycle Management Center commander lieutenant general CD Moore II said the successful first flight represents a significant milestone for the programme.
"The F-15SA will add critical capability to the RSAF and enhance the security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," Moore II added.
The F-15SA flight test programme covers operation of three instrumented F-15SA’s from Boeing’s facilities in St. Louis and Palmdale, California, US.
Boeing has been tasked to upgrade the RSAF’s existing 68 F-15C/D Eagle fleet to the SA configuration, along with supply of four base stand-up kits to support the aircraft’s operating capability, as part of a $4bn contract received in November 2012.
Awarded as part of the $29.4bn foreign military sales (FMS) agreement signed between the two countries in January 2012, the contract has been revised by the US Department of Defense (DoD) to a not-to-exceed value of $3.5bn.
An upgraded version of the F-15 Eagle aircraft, F-15 SA is designed to provide RSAF with an all-weather, multirole fighter capability to conduct long-range, high-speed interdiction missions, without relying on escort or electronic warfare aircraft.
The F-15SA variant will feature an APG-63(v)3 active electronically scanned array radar, digital electronic warfare system (DEWS), AAS-42 infrared search-and-track (IRST) system, a fly-by-wire flight control system, joint helmet mounted cueing systems and two additional weapon stations for increased payload capacity.
Deliveries are scheduled to commence in 2015 and be completed by 2019.
Image: The F-15SA aircraft during its first flight. Photo courtesy of Boeing photo / Kevin Flynn.