Tel Aviv: Related or not. The day the information about Iran enriching Uranium to 84 % grade came, Israel made signals that it wants to dramatically increase to number of F-15 EX, the latest version, operated by its air force. The signals were released during the Israel visit of Ted Colbert, President and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space and Security.
Colbert met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and visited an Israeli air force base were the current fleet of F-15 Is operated. Only recently, the Israeli Ministry of Defense issued the letter of request (LOR) for 25 F-15EX fighter. On that occasion, the first indications were given that the target is to increase the number to 50. Now these indications have surfaced again.
The Israeli air force (IAF) has expressed its urgent need for more F-15 that can be loaded with some types of weapon systems developed in Israel, that are tailored to destroy hardened targets like the Iranian nuclear sites. The F-15EX carries more weapons than any other fighter in its class, and can launch hypersonic weapons up to 22 feet long and up to 7,000 pounds.
The IAF hopes that, in addition to its F-15EX buy, it can upgrade its 25 F-15I to the same avionic configuration of the F-15 EX, minus the fly by wire system. However, the Israeli defence source said that budget limitations may affect the scope of the F-15I planned upgrade. The IAF operates a mix of 50 F-15A/B/C/D designs, as well as the 25 F-15I.
So now there are more indications that Israel has decided to go for 50 F-15 EX. The problem is double – delivery dates and budget. Sources here say that this issue will be discussed in the coming months in meetings between American and Israeli teams in an effort to come up with some solution.