The Israeli air force plans to complete the full upgrade of its Boeing F-15I "Raam" strike aircraft in 2013, with the work aiming to give the type the capability to perform a "larger scale" of missions.
"This is a real revolution in the operational envelope of these fighter aircraft, and will allow the F-15I to better cope with new threats that were not so acute until recently," says one air force source. Israel's air force is considered to be the nation's main tool to cope with an Iranian nuclear threat.
Modifications to the F-15I include the installation of a "great number of new avionic systems, most of them developed in Israel according to the operational experience of the air force," the service says. The work is being performed by a special unit of the maintenance depot at Hazerim air base, according to the Israeli air force magazine.
While the air force has not officially linked an expansion of the F-15I upgrade to delays in the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme, sources confirm that "this factor" was taken into account when the modification package was designed.
Israeli air force
Israel has 25 F-15Is, which Flightglobal's MiliCAS database records as having been delivered between 1997 and 1999.
Two years ago, the Israeli air force completed upgrades on its older F-15A/B/C/D "Baz" strike aircraft. The process was aimed mainly at enabling the platforms to use advanced weapon systems, such as Boeing's JDAM-series bombs.
The work also included radar improvements and fuselage strengthening.