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Israel Requests F-15EX Sale And F-15I Upgrade

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An artist rendering of how the F-15EX might look like once in service in the Israeli Air Force. (Photo: Boeing)

The Israeli Ministry of Defense reportedly sent a Letter of Request to the US government to acquire 25 Eagle II aircraft.

After years of delays, it appears that Israel might finally get the newest F-15 variant: the F-15EX Eagle II. According to Breaking Defense and The Jerusalem Post, which quote industry sources, the Ministry of Defense sent an official Letter of Request to the United States government, starting the process for the possible approval of a Foreign Military Sale.

The Israeli government already showed interest in the F-15EX in 2020, when acquiring more F-35s and F-15s was put among the top priorities. However, political instability and budget issues delayed the F-15 deal, while only the contract for more F-35s was finalized. The LoR describes a need for 25 F-15EX jets, which in Israel would assume the designation F-15IA (Israel Advanced), but it is being reported that up to 50 aircraft might be requested as the FMS moves forward.

Together with the newly built aircraft, Israel is also requesting the upgrade of its 25 F-15I Ra’am, the Israeli variant of the F-15E Strike Eagle, to an avionic configuration similar to the F-15EX. The Israeli Air Force also has 50 F-15 A/B/C/D aircraft, but they are not involved in the upgrade. According to Breaking Defense, earliest deliveries of F-15IAs could be expected in 2028, while a timetable for the upgrade of the F-15I is not known.

An Israeli Air Force F-15I Ra’am, the Israeli variant of the F-15E Strike Eagle. (Photo: Amit Agronov/Israeli Air Force)

Since 2020, the Israeli Air Force expressed an urgent need for more F-15s that could haul heavy loads, including heavy weapons made in Israel to destroy reinforced targets, such as Iranian nuclear sites. In fact, the need for F-35s and F-15s is based on future combat scenarios and the potential need to strike Iran, where targets will be protected by advanced air defense systems. Such scenarios would include multiple waves of F-35s to neutralize the air defense systems and F-15s to strike nuclear facilities.

With the strengthened relations between Russia and Iran, which could lead to Iran getting hands on newer and more advanced equipment, Israel might consider the need for new fighters even more urgent. In fact, as we recently reported, Iran might soon receive new Su-35S Flanker-E jets, as well as unspecified air defense systems, missile systems and helicopters. The sale of the S-400 Triumf surface to air missile system has also been rumored for a long time, but has never been confirmed so far.

Stefano D’Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he’s also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.

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