Israel requests 25 advanced F-15EX warplanes from US

The two-seater F-15EX can fly further and hold more weaponry, including hypersonic missiles capable of hitting Iran in a combined attack with Israel’s stealth bombers.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israel has formally asked to purchase an initial batch of 25 of the most advanced variant of the F-15 multirole fighter aircraft, the F-15EX, the Breaking Defense website reported Thursday.

The official Letter of Request for the F-15EX was sent several days ago as the first step in what is usually a years-long process before actually receiving the order.

According to the website’s source, the earliest that the first planes could be expected would be 2028, unless the U.S. approves an expedited delivery.

The American air force itself only received its first two F-15EX aircraft a year ago.

According to its manufacturer, Boeing, it is the best in its class in terms of “payload, range and speed,” with “the capacity to carry hypersonic weapons.” Among the other $87-million warplane’s improvements are the ability to carry and launch up to 12 air-to-air missiles instead of the usual eight, and re-conformed fuel tanks that enable it fly to further destinations.

Its protective avionics package has been upgraded several notches, and several military publications have noted that its general configuration lends it some radar-evading, stealth capability.

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All of these elements will be necessary to help Israel take out Iran’s nuclear facilities, if Jerusalem deems this move vital to the country’s security. The F-15EX could be used in the first wave of an attack, obliterating the Islamic Republic’s air-defense systems, including those on the ground and any fighters sent up by the Iranian air force to stop the assault.

The second wave could then consist of the three squadrons of F-35 Stealth fighters, equipped with bunker-busting bombs to reach the nuclear facilities hidden deep within mountains or underground.

Last June, the Israeli air force conducted a drill simulating an F-35I strike on Iran without the need for mid-air refueling. It also practiced cooperation between the stealth fighters and the older model F-15s and F-16s, which these more advanced jets would replace in due course.

Less than two months ago, the IDF held a series of exercises with the U.S. Air Force off of Israel’s coast, practicing a joint strike.

“The Intelligence Directorate conducted an extensive simulation that replicated a campaign against distant countries,” the IDF stated at the time.

“These exercises are a key component of the two militaries’ increasing strategic cooperation in response to shared concerns in the Middle East, particularly those posed by Iran,” the army added.

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The IDF has wanted to order the jet for a long time but was delayed by the inability of Israel to form – and keep – a government for very long, with five elections in the last four years, or to pass a budget that would include such an expenditure. The planes cost roughly $85 million apiece.

It is unclear why last year’s unity government was unable to place the order, as it even passed a two-year rather than the more traditional one-year budget.