Saudis Eye Buying 72 F-15s

Saudis Eye Buying 72 F-15s

Saudi Arabia is close to placing an order for as many as 72 Boeing F-15 fighter jets, industry and defense sources tell us. Growing security concerns over Gulf neighbor and perennial troublemaker Iran are pushing the Saudis to upgrade their air fleet with a particular emphasis on precision strike aircraft.

The Pentagon is expected to approve the sale as it seeks to counter Iran’s recent break-out as a regional power and quell nervousness among Gulf Arab states troubled by Iran’s growing stockpile of increasingly accurate and long-range ballistic missiles. Foreign military sales are managed through the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency. DSCA did not respond to an emailed request for information.

The F-15 order would come on top of Riyadh’s purchase of 72 Eurofighter Typhoons in 2006, the first of which are just now being delivered to the Gulf kingdom. The Saudis currently operate around 71 two-seat F-15Ss, a variant of the F-15E Strike Eagle with downgraded avionics, Hughes APG-70 radar and LANTIRN targeting pod. They also operate 66 single-seat F-15Cs and 18 two-seat F-15Ds air-superiority fighters, according to figures compiled by CSIS’s Anthony Cordesman.

I spoke with Boeing’s Patricia Frost, and while she wouldn’t comment specifically about a potential Saudi F-15 buy, she did say Riyadh, along with other potential international customers, has expressed interest in the recently unveiled F-15 “Silent Eagle” variant. A modified F-15E, the Silent Eagle includes radar absorbent materials added to leading edges, canted vertical stabilizers that reduce side radar returns, and weapons carried internally in conformal fuel tanks. The modifications provide some reductions in both the aircraft’s head-on radar signature and also some improvement against air-defenses, she said.

DoD Buzz friend Stephen Trimble has a good write up on the Silent Eagle available here. A flight test demonstration of the Silent Eagle variant is scheduled for early next year, Frost said.

Last year, Riyadh requested 900 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) tail kits, another Boeing product, to convert “dumb” iron bombs into “smart” bombs. The JDAMs were to be carried by the Royal Saudi Air Force F-15S strike jets. The sale got hung up momentarily by Congress, as large weapons sales to Arab states often do, but ultimately went through.

I asked Travis Sharp, a military analyst at The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, in Washington, DC, about the likelihood that Congress would interfere with a Saudi order for more F-15s. It was very unlikely, he said. The last time Congress really tried to block a major arms sale was the Saudi AWACS deal back in the 1980s, and even that sale eventually went through.

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This is about the smartest buy that anyone has made in the last few years. While we are waiting for F-35 fighters to finish testing (while the numbers are being sharply cut back to enable us to spend money on the new F-48) the Saudis and Koreans will be flying F-15s.

We will forever be waiting for the Next Big Fighter (which will be too expensive to buy more than 20 of anyway) while other countries will be flying. So we can rent their aircraft no doubt. Our folks will be flying unmanned aerial vehicles which can loiter for hours — watching other country’s aircraft do the job.

F-48? Wha? Are you being facetious here or is there actually an F-48 being drawn up somewhere? I’m guessing the former, but just in case…

I think it’s very interesting that despite all the whingeing about the JSF’s internal bays reducing weapons load, here’s the F-15SE with internal bays and nary a peep is heard…

Yes, the F-48 is a just the F-22 -> F-35 -> F-48. I just added 13 to 35. Do I have a point?

Yes, we stopped production of the F-22 in favor of the F-35. When the F-35 is in production, won’t there be a new fighter coming along behind it? Almost certainly the F-35 will be so expensive that we cannot afford more than 80 or so; with each new fighter model we buy fewer airframes than the one before. And with so few fighters, and almost certainly there will be a need for fighters, won’t we have to design something to replace our aging fighter fleet? By then our old F-16s and F-15s will be even older!

My point is that it might be better to buy more of what you know, what you can certainly afford, something that will do the job for the next thirty years. That or hope to buy a diminishing number of aircraft that would be world-beaters — if you could only afford enough of them.

Doesn’t Saudi Arabia have the best air force in the region outside of Israel?


What is the performance capability of this thing with external stores, and the internal stores bays replaced with fuel tanks? As good or better than F-15E?
Being based on a proven airframe, wouldn’t this be a better purchase than the F-35?

Charles, I thought that was your point I was just making sure there wasn’t already a new fighter in the pipeline that I haven’t heard of :)

And if Saudi goes for new F-15s, they will have GE motors after the big remove and replace of PWs motors on their F-15 fleet over poor customer relations.

Great stuff, Colin! Haven’t seen this anywhere else–yet!

Opps! Sorry, Greg. Still, great stuff!

I’m interested in seeing Saudi manning levels. The F-15S pilots were initially scrounged together, setting up that new Typhoon wing will be challenging, and then even more dual-seaters planned for the fleet will make recruitment really interesting.

Try F-22 or F-23 sadik.

Now, if Japan could order an F-22 variant, we could keep the industrial base at least partially up and running.

@Gray Eagle

Or we just could continue production and actually listen to the USAF’s requirement. It is rather funny to think that F-15s will still be rolling off the production after F-22s are. (unless that program gets resurrected)

The F-15 has been around for awhile but the avionics and engines in the F-15SE are bound to be cutting edge. I have my concerns about trusting the Saudis with such advanced F-15s. Yet we still need their oil sadly.


Most of US oil US oil comes from Canada and Mexico. SA is third on our import list. Still significant, but surprising nonetheless.

Daniel Russ

We could, of course buy this F15 instead of the F35. Two engines, stealth–at least as much as F35 (Wikipedia, could be wrong). Experience with the airframe and engines, greater ordinance load-out, two crew members.
Why buy the the F35 again, except that a whole bunch of money was spent on it?

I thought the worry with the JSF’s internal bomb bay is that the release pylons are slightly canted off centre.Not the same problem with bomb releases on the F-15. Good for aerospace employment in the US if only they would sell the Raptor to Japan and Australia,maybe even Israel.

Where do i sign up to fly for the saudis?

We wait for the JSF, while the SE is available. Are the Saudi’s smarter than us? Do they know something we only think about..concerning Iran? Thats alotta aircraft.

SELL THE RAPTOR. Why wouldn’t we? You want capable allies. costs would go down. It would be a deterrent to the Chi-coms and NK’s..why not?

soonergrunt: I’d trust Wikipedia about as far as I can throw Jimmy Wales.

Even Boeing admits that the F-15SE “stealth” features will only be useful against airborne threats, and that they have no current plans to give the F-15SE any low-RCS optimization against ground radars. As far as those go it’s still hey-diddle-diddle, right-up-the-middle.

DensityDuck said that the F-15SE stealth features would be useful against airborne threats only, and I agree. But I’d also say that stealth is a nice technology that has not demonstrated that it is worth the cost. Fighters could go into a country that has been sterilized by UAVs, Wild Weasels, cruise missiles, etc.
In fact, an F-15E or SE would make a great Wild Weasel.
We couldn’t buy many B-2s since they were so expensive but the venerable B-52 is still flying in SWA. So is the B-1. We couldn’t buy many F-22s but the venerable F-16 is still flying in SWA.
Maybe if we could get a non-stealth F-22 we could buy some more??? Now that is a version that I’d like to see.

I don’t trust wikipedia except for things that are non-conroversial–of course, it’s AMAZING what some people will consider to be controversial.
That said, Doesn’t the same thing about stealth apply to the F-35? I don’t know a lot about stealth stuff, but I do understand the concepts and I read ELP’s site a lot and I’m not as impressed.
The concern I have here is that two engines is safer than one, especially for countries like Japan and Australia (and us when we operate in that area,) and even a new build F-15E/SE would have better range and higher payload. Does stealth or LO technology really matter after the F-22 has gone in and swept the sky of enemy interceptors and bombed air search radars alongside B-2?
I mean, if this stealth stuff really works as advertised, it becomes irrelevant after about day 3 to day 5 of the air war, or at least that’s the way it’s being sold. And the trade off for attack missions is shorter legs and lower ordinance loads.

Problem is the F-35 is intended to be a low cost 5th gen fighter to supplement the F-22. Just as the F-16 was used to supplement the F-15. Ideally the F-35 is supposed to cost significantly less than such a modernized F-15.

Plenty of time and money has been invested in the F-35 and it will hopefully turn out to be a capable aircraft. However it is no F-22 and we should purchase more of those. A F-22C with avionics from the F-35 like EOTS would make the F-22 a true multi-role aircraft.

We should certainly keep our F-15E fleet around for years to come, and we could probably upgrade them with some of the F-15SE’s components. The stealth features however probably wouldn’t be worth it.

Foreign intelligence services are going to try to steal our LO tech anyway, we might as well make a buck by giving our allies something to chew on. Do you know how much money is wasted by contractors trying to win a bid? If they come up and say “hey, we want this thing you have”, it’s a no-brainer.

We trust the Saudis with our best F-15 and F-16 variants, an SE wouldn’t be a huge leap. Besides, we could stipulate a quid pro quo on an F-22 sale: if you buy F-22s, we get to station our own F-22s on your bases. It’ll make Iran think twice about flying over Saudi, Iraqi, or Israeli airspace–they’d be screwed on the return trip.


No the F-15SE will not nor could it ever (without complete redesign of the airframe such that it is no longer an F-15) have the stealth of the F-35. I really wish people would STOP misquoting Boeing. What Boeing has said is that is can reduce the frontal aspect RCS of the F-15SE to as low as the DOD allows for export. Boeing is no doubt using it experience with exporting the F/A-18E/F to recognize what RCS level that is. DO NOT CONFUSE WHAT REDUCED RCS THE DOD WILL ALLOW FOR EXPORT F/A-18E/F &/or F-15SE WITH THE RCS OF THE F-35!

What Saudi Arabia knows is that it won’t be getting any F-35s for many years.

Buy the F-35 because it is a true 5th generation medium strike fighter (F-16 & F/A-18 replacement) for less cost (durning full rate production) than even remotely comparable ‘4.5 generation’ fighters.



No we do not trust Saudis with our best F-15 and F-16 variants. Their F-15S is a DOWNGRADED F-15E…

The only diff between the F-15E and F-15S is the radar–and they could probably convince us to sell AESA radars for something in return.

Misspoke, the F-16 Block 50/52s are working in Israel, while the Block 60s are with the UAE.

Once again I read about how money is tight and that production has stopped on the F22, and how what can we do to get the most for what little money we have, everytime I read this it just burns me up! No, the Pres and Congress don’t have the money to build the resources we need to protect and defend our nation, which is their primary duty and what they take an oath for. But we do have plenty of money to give to bums (welfare), or free health care for all, or bailing out crooked banks, CEOs, etc., free drugs, entitlements! JUST THINK OF HOW MANY F-22S WE COULD BUY WITH ALL OF THAT WASTED MONEY! Or all of the weapons systems that we could upgrade!
It’s a fact that defense spending is good for the economy, and it’s about damn time that all of you people get off your rears and hound your Congressmen/Senators that they better quit throwing away our defenses on all of this other stupid crap! Then we wouldn’t need to have this argument about what weapon system we should buy, we could just buy them all and lots of them. What we deside we don’t like, we outfit those systems with remote controls and use them as targets and kamakazies!


Healthcare for 47 million Americans isn’t crap. It’s absolutely essential. In fact, article 35 of the Iraqi Constitution guarantees free health care for all Iraqis. If we have the money to provide healthcare to the entire population a country that didn’t ask for it, why can’t we have healthcare for a country that needs it?

Welfare is not really a big problem since President Clinton reformed it and reduced waste in his very successful welfare reform legislation– quite bipartisan with a majority of Republican signatures. By the way, in these hard times there are millions of US veterans on

Would you deny US veterans?

Daniel Russ

Daniel Russ I like Tim would rather have the USAF and the rest of the military get everything they want instead of a healthcare scheme which seems to be on course for disaster. The Iraqis can do whatever they want, but we shouldn’t be paying for it.

One of the better things Clinton did was clear out welfare a bit, but there is still plenty of work to be done in that regard. We don’t need these corrupt groups like ACORN leaching tax dollars either.


I agree mostly.

Today I just saw an ABC news brief about mopre than $150 million that have been directed to an airport in Jack Murtha’s home town that has three flights a day. A brand new conning tower, modern radar system, digital displays, huge terminals, and less than 20 passengers a day.

We built an embassy in Iraq that is larger than three football fields, the largest edifice in the country, most of it abandoned.

Or read this month’s Vanity Fair that shows us billions in our tax dollars went to gold junkets, and private jets for the same fools that ran the country into a ditch.

This kind of waste is endemic. And it has to be addressed.

Without giving you the painful details, my father, a USAF vet and my brother, a USN vet, both died because they were poor and both because they could not afford quality medical care.

That said, I think health care would look a lot more affordable if we really knew how much of what we pay for is utterly, shamelessly wasted.


Daniel Russ

If it,s any consolation , at least the Saudi order if it goes through, will keep American workers at Boeing employed for the time being. Of course, let,s hope that we still have a friendly government still in power there when the last plane is delivered and not some Islamic regime that suddenly hates America(i.e. Iran).

Having worked in Saudi Arabia for almost 4 years on the AWACS program I see the wasted money that the RSAF and the USAF just throw away. You all think fighters are so important…and they are! But let me remind you there are other players on the ball field! The F-22 just flat out cost way to much as will the F-35. We have new materials and new software…if an airframe is good just swap out the guts and truck on! The Saudis need to upgrade their AWACS and tankers so the fighters have that support. USAF needs to stop buying all that junk like a spoiled kid who wants a new toy every year! Look at all the damn bombers it has! They were about to give up on the A-10 until the first gulf war showed them that…that old dog is still good to go! If you all are seriously talking about the defence of a nation…then should not all war materials be low cost???? Take a good look at the bone yards!!!

heello there
really i already talked with my friend Jody in my work he said saudi arabia buy F-15 silent eagle i didn’t believe him cause we already buy typhon also we will buy –15s w0o0ow thats good news we will have really huge air force in midle east also we will protect our self
thanks my country for f-15

also i’m weapons soo i wanna 2 know how 2 upload missiles an bombs in this jet
see ya guys

First, I hope to forgive me because I am not familiar with good command in English with regret and even used a translator WWW Vorjawa forgive me for my idea
I and I hope to Touselkm Kalamati best form in which you have to understand my point of view
The relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia is the relationship between the interests of the closely related and on the basis of economic support for Saudi Arabia to the United States for U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia of weapons, equipment and training, etc.
السعوديه as the largest investor in the world, with trillions of dollars and tremendous oil reserves to make much of the world are racing to like because it is a strategic alliance such as China, Russia and even France and Britain, and thank God we have good relations with all countries of the world hostile enemies of Israel as well Iran

And the United States itself is aware of Malk and if the United States does not want to Saudi Arabia accounts for the weapons that you want the Alliance highlighted the principles and Delays Saudi deal is that Saudi Arabia wants to make this plane in the homeland which is rejected by the United States to tie السعوديه dealership Malk 20 billion dollars, while all or nothing to wait and see whether the alliance will survive or not knowing that the United States tested by Malk and refused to sell weapons such as missiles for Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia moved to China and refused to sell fighter jets and Saudi Arabia moved to Britain to buy Typhoon Tornado or now with the collection and transfer Tknlogitha gradually Balazafh that the U.S. has refused to sell us the number of helicopters that we asked so we went to Russia and Russians, agreed to hundreds of Saudi Arabia today does not want to buy only want to buy with the transfer of Technology

As for which one replies that they are speaking only of thinking and we do not think the issue of Iran, we do not like Iran, Acunnina will not fight it if it wants the United States war Valtharb Come we will not fight one we buy weapons to protect ourselves, but if you leave the United States Iran is making nuclear bomb, we we will make nukes and that is what is guaranteed by international law we have the right to protect our country in any way we see fit, either militarily, we are able to crush any country in the Middle East continue to threaten our security, whether in Iraq or Asriil Malk and they know we have an army that his mother and the Saudi army is not only all the Army of the Islamic Ummah of the country continues to reject peace Asriil to date and seeks to us all our military state so we have a good obituary is that Israel is the army with a state and not a state has an army

Peace initiative on the table Mndhu the Beirut summit in 2002 Sharon was Prime Minister of Israel over Malk time that the Arab initiative is not worth the paper it’s written by and he does not understand that we want peace, not peace, but something I was not uttered by Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister said Israel if it did not seek serious about peace, it Stza future of its people in the hands of warlords

There are 1.6 billion Muslims angry by this entity as we strive towards peace and I do not listen to one of the rulers of Asriil did not know that military force, no matter how powerful and Tjbert it vulnerable to the belief in God, then the days just cause and the issue of Jerusalem the third holiest Shrines

Iran has become a headache for many in our region and we Ksaudiin government and people are seriously thinking about our brothers and we had the responsibility to protect the army of all countries of the Arabian Gulf, not only Saudi Arabia by the joint defense agreement with the Gulf countries to Egypt Balazafh normalize it is our duty is to participate in the protection of these States, as is their duty towards us and Acunnina carry Bonla concern is this war is not afraid nor Dafn and I do not even shed the blood of innocent people
You should consider the 2006 Lebanon war everybody has to look at us that we should be good start of the war against Israel was that it had killed about 10-thousand children and innocent civilian Lebanese and Acunnina our board by initiating that Arabs do not tolerate any act that is calculated from the second Asriil

thank you for your efforts to read the ideas of others, I use the concept of the translator Qoukl and, unfortunately, is very bad
Thank you all

ok US will give f15 to saudi but what it will give to isreal? to counter saudi f15.
most likely more advance fighter

Where do i sign up to fly for the saudis?


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