Saudi Arabia seeks F-15 deal worth $29.4bn

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The US government has confirmed details of a possible order by Saudi Arabia worth $29.4 billion for 84 new F-15SAs equipped with active electronically scanned array radars and major upgrades to its fleet of 70 F-15Ss.

The notice by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), posted on 20 October, shows the potential deal has cleared reviews by the US government, but stops short of a commitment by Riyadh to sign a contract.

The DSCA's description of the proposed configuration for the F-15SA reveals a highly advanced fighter. In addition to being equipped with Raytheon's APG-63(V)3 AESA radar, it will also be armed with the company's AIM-120C7 AMRAAM and AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. Protection would come from a BAE Systems digital electronic warfare system.

The latter is part of the configuration Boeing has defined for the F-15SE Silent Eagle, which also adds a reduced radar cross-section.

However, the F-15SA does not appear to include other advanced upgrades from the Silent Eagle design, such as stealth treatments, internal weapons bays and canted tails.

 
© Joris van Boven

Saudi Arabia's potential order also could include upgrading all 70 existing F-15Ss (above) to a common configuration with the F-15SA. The package also involves setting up a 12-aircraft training contingent of F-15SAs based in the USA, the notice says.

The size and scope of the order offers a potential major boost to Boeing. The manufacturer needs a new contract to keep its 40-year-old F-15 production line alive beyond 2012.