In last month’s Military Transformation Uplink I noted that the South Koreans approved the purchase of an additional 20 F-15K fighters. Now the Israelis, fearing a possible delay in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, are looking to increase the number of F-15I Ra’am (“Thunder”) fighters in their inventory.
The F-15I Ra’am is an Israeli-ized version of the F-15E Strike Eagle. Of particular note is this:
At the moment, Boeing is expected to get back to the IAF with proposals of how the manufacturer can turn the F-15 into a long-range aircraft. Some of the ideas being proposed include modifications to the aircraft’s structure as well as larger fuel tanks.
Recall that the F-16I Soufa incorporates conformal fuel tanks to greatly extend its range. I noted in the F-16I article (in late 2003) that Libya and Iran were within range of the plane. Since it appears that Libya has decided to play nice, that leaves just ol’ Persia as the long-range target of choice for the Israeli air force, I guess.
The Korean purchase would keep the F-15 production line open until 2011, and any Israeli orders would keep it open even longer, obviously.
Israel is also interested in the V-22 Osprey, for Combat Search-and-Rescue and Special Operations missions.