More F-15s for Israel?

IAF interested in new F-15I squadron

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.


  1. Sure does, chuck. Or rather its an accessory they Im sure the Isrealis have. But after seeing the f-16I pics, it sounds like they are looking for a topside conformal fuel tank… he, he he, f-15 fighter tanker version… expensive but interesting… Just wanted to say its interesting about them wanting the ’22s for csar considering that they have been rejected for that role by us.

  2. Congressional staffer report My sources told me the F-15E powered by the Pratt &Whitney F100PW-229 can out-turn the E/F, out-climb it, out-accelerate it, fly further, carry a far larger payload, and compared to the E/F, has a more capable radar and infrared targeting system, as well as a much more sophisticated electronic integration of the displays in the front and rear cockpits than the two-seat F/A-18F model. The only thing the E/F can do that the 15E can not do is land on a carrier. Despite these differences, not to mention the fact that the F-15E began production 10 years before the E/F, the F/A-E/F costs one-third MORE than the F-15E. Surely the addition of a carrier capability did not require this kind of performance reduction at a higher cost after ten years of advancing technology. The cost-capability-time asymmetries suggest fascinating questions about productivity and technology, because both airplanes were designed and are produced by the same corporate culture in the SAME factory.

  3. Yeah, but the F-15 was designed before the late 20th century bloat kicked in… …which is why I think it’s such a miracle that the F-22 works as well as it does, despite its astronomical cost. The Navy really should have probably either modernized the F-14 fleet or pulled a reverse-Phantom and carrier equipped F-15s (much like MiG and Sukhoi were able to do with their carrier-based BiG-29 and Su-27/30/33 variants). BTW james I think you got F-18 and F-15 mixed up in your post, it took me a while to work out what you were talking about. And, yeah, the F-15E(/I?) comes standard with a permanently attached CFT which was a later, optional addition to the earlier F-15 planes. In other words, they build conformal fuel tanks for the F-15C/D which could be attached and detached, then they decided since the F-15E is a strike aircraft, designed to carry more and fly farther, they should be permanently attached. That, and I think the CFTs on the F-15E(/I?) also have weapons carrying stations that I’m guessing the detachable CFTs don’t have.

  4. Ah, sorry, I think what I meant to say, james, is I was confused by you talking about the F-15E, then referring to the ‘E/F’ by which I think you mean F-18E/F. You didn’t get them mixed up, but I think you could have made it clearer what you were talking about. Plus I made a couple of typos, BiG-29 = MiG-29 and build = built :)

  5. Check out this paper regarding what we should be paying for new aircraft. We have gone from being able to develop a highly complex fighter jet like the F-14 in 18 months, to it taking 12 years to develop the B-2, and 25 years to develop the F-22. The cost of development has gone up similarly. This has taken place in direct opposition to the huge gains that have been made in technology during that same period. The computers on the desks of the secretaries working at Boeing and Lockheed today surpass the capabilities of Cray Supercomputers when the F-14 was designed and have graphics capabilities beyond imagination in those days. So why has the time and cost to develop these aircraft exploded? Here is a quote from the paper that should shock you: ‘If the price performance of combat aircraft were improving at a mere 1 percent of the rate of improvement in price-performance of the typical civilian IT products, the F-22 and the Joint Strike Fighter would cost less than their predecessors, not many times more.’ And on the topic of the F-14, there is a reason they never sold it to any foreign governments. It was that good. Which means the Navy is that stupid for giving it up. The F-18E/F only compounds the stupidity.

  6. Dfens : The F-14 was sold to Iran, remember? Then the Shah was overthrown and all support was pulled… But yeah, I do honestly think it was a good aircraft. It had faults, but they were all fixable. In fact it was pretty dumb that the entire fleet wasn’t re-engined (upgraded to F-14Bs/Ds) as soon as the new engines were available. That would have solved the compressor stalls and improved performance (except for top speed), making them truly formiddable dogfighters. I still can’t believe AMRAAM capability was never added. Throw in some new avionics and AESA radars and they’d still be one of the premier fighter/strike platforms in the world today. Oh well, the Navy seems happy with the SuperHornets, I just hope if push comes to shove they don’t find them falling short of expectations.

  7. since you mentioned the f-14… thought it was interesting that the canadian air force almost flew f-14. seems they were working a deal to get the iranian f-14 fleet on the cheap after the revolution. but then they helped our embassy hostages and that killed it.

  8. Anyone want to bet on the nuclear delivery capabilities the IAF is looking for with their F-15I’s?

  9. You’re right, of course, about the Iran sale. The other thing that hurt foreign military sales was the swing wing. Not many countries had a need for that. I’m sure the one sale of the F-14 to our good friends in Iran was very significant for the development of the MiG-29 as they share many common features – not including the swing wing, naturally. It amazes me how a bad design like the F-18 can be spun as being better than a good design like the F-14, and the only country to learn from our good design is our enemy.

  10. Well, the swing wing gives the plane some nice characteristics. The bad is the extra cost and maintenance required, as well as the fact that it’s harder to carry weapons underneath the wings (since the hardpoints have to rotate). However, since our RAAF has F-111s with eight under-wing hardpoints, it’s obviously not impossible. The good is: good high speed performance without requiring a high landing speed; excellent turning cicle at low speed; good cruise efficiency. Those things add up to making a plane which is very versatile. It’s a good interceptor (fast), a good fighter (maneuverable) and a good strike aircraft (longish range). What’s not to like? :) P.S. I saw a pilot write that the F-14 can out-turn just about anything in the sky. He was explaining that a critical factor in how fast you can SUSTAIN a turn has to do with wingspan. Apparently, at certain speeds typical for dogfights, the F-14 can pull 9Gs continuously shile maintaining speed and altitude. Pretty amazing! I’d be interested to verify those claims.

  11. Yes, there are a lot of advantages to the swing wing beyond the carrier landing. It’s funny now how we think of the swing wing as causing the airplane to be so expensive, and yet the F-22 has a fixed wing and still comes in at $120M and took 25 years to develop. It’s got to make you wonder. Another advantage of the swing wing. I have a late friend who worked for Grumman on the F-14. He said the idea for the X-29 forward swept wing came out of the analysis for the variable sweep wing. He let the wing continue forward and saw some remarkable numbers come out of his model. Those were the days! Who knew things would turn around to the point they are at now? How could we go from being such a great industry to one that utterly and completely sucks? The Super Tomcat is the program I would have like to see happen. They sharpened and reshaped the leading edge of the glove to provide vortex lift like the F-16 and MiG-29 use along with adding some even better engines. That bird would have been extremely formidable.

  12. That’s cool more planes for Israel, all the better for shooting up Palestinian kids.Dam’ I forgot they are collateral damage aren’t they. Hey Murdoc another thing is that you seemed to have pulled down Tony Blair’s poster about supporting America in Iraq.You have obviously been reading the British news papers and realizing that not one person in the UK supports the Iraq invasion.Shame on you for losing your nerve you good old boy!

  13. Dave: Long time no hear. The Tony Blair ‘poster’ was, in fact, a paid advertsement as should be quite clear since it was in the BLOGADS section. The ad ran out, so it’s no longer running. Sorry to disappoint you, but that’s all there’s to it. No nerve involved. For what it’s worth, the ‘Thank Tony Blair’ ads are generally one of the highest-clicked ads on my site. The group has bought ads many times on MO, usually a few weeks after the previous one runs out, so I wouldn’t be too surprised to see another one up in the near future. Maybe, maybe not.

  14. Dave (again): So, you think that the Israelis are looking for extended-range F-15 Strike Eagles to hit Palestinians? I didn’t think the Palestinians were so far away. You must know more about geography than I do, probably because I wasn’t part of the ‘band of brothers’ as you like to point out…

  15. Nah’ you know dam well that I was not referring to the extended range of their planes by using bigger fuel tanks.It is more to the point about American tech’ in general that is used on the Palestinians. I would love you to go to some of these countries that are American test beds for new weapons. I have just come back from the states and what a weird world it is now since my last visit 94.Alice through the looking glass world. Parallel worlds indeed

  16. ‘Nah’ you know dam well that I was not referring to the extended range of their planes by using bigger fuel tanks.’ My mistake. I should have realized that when you commented on ‘more planes for Israel, all the better for shooting up Palestinian kids’ you weren’t talking about the planes the post was about and were, instead, simply blathering.

  17. Blathering’ good word Murdoc, you should remember that the finger you point at me with that word also applies to the three fingers pointing back at you. Lots of chuckles but do keep up the good work. Dave