The state department has approved the sale of 72 F-15QAs to Qatar the sale is worth 21.1 Billion dollars and is expected to have deliveries starting in 2017. The 72 F-15s are the second major contact Boeing has had with the Qatari Air Force after Qatar secured the 667.5 million dollar contract for 24 AH-64 Apache’s which was signed back in June of 2016. Qatar usually purchases most of its military aircraft from France the shift in purchasing of large quantities of American defense products shows a growing interest in the Qatari government to build a more powerful military.
Qatar’s F-15QAs will likely complement the existing fleet of 9 Mirage 2000s and 24 Rafael’s that are on order. The F-15QA is a specialized variant of the American F-15E designed to fit the needs of the Qatari Air Force. The F-15E offers the ability to both attack air and ground targets while utilizing a advanced AN/APG-70 radar by Raytheon that provides synthetic aperture mapping for air to ground operation’s and has a search range of 160 miles for air targets. The aircraft can employ the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile and the AIM-9L and X sidewinder missile’s the latter works with the helmet mounted queuing system. It is unclear at this point what weapons the US will allow to be sold with the F-15s but likely the same weapons that the Saudi Air Force received will be delivered. In regard’s to Air to ground capabilities the F-15AQ like the F-15E can deliver all the major air to ground weapons in use such as the PAVEWAY series of laser guided bombed and the JDAM series of GPS guided bombs along with AGM-65 Maverick Missiles. The aircrafts payload is up to 23,000 pounds of ordnance and a range with conformal fuel tanks of 2100 miles. This is gives the Qatari Air Force there first ever long range strike capability.F-15QA is also a high performance fighter being able to pull 9gs with a thrust to weight ratio of 0.93 and a speed of Mach-25 allowing for high levels of maneuverability in any air-to-air situation.
The delivery of the 72 F-15Es will give Qatar a tactical advantage in the middle east for the first time ever the Qatar’s will have the strike, SEAD and air interdiction capability that previously Qatar has not had. Also the delivery will bring Qatar’s Air Force to the level of a major air arm matching that of the UAE and surpassing that of Jordan. The sale of fighters to Qatar will possibly shift the balance of power in the region and might be a signal of things to come in regards to Qatar becoming a regional power. Recently Qatar has taken part in air strikes with the Saudis against Houthi rebels in Yemen. So far Qatar has not participated in air strikes against IS in Syria but has provided Al Udeid Air force base for the US led coalition during the operation. Qatar is not on the major non NATO ally list yet has been able to purchase high end US weapons since the first delivery of Patriot missiles in 2010.