This is great news for the US defense industry, especially Boeing, who has taken some hard blows from Lockheed’s F-35 recently. 84 new build F-15s and almost as many upgrade kits for much of their existing fleet means that the F-15 line should stay warm for years to come. This can also act as a strategic hedge against the troubled F-35 program. It will be very interesting to see exactly what baseline configuration these new F-15s will be delivered in. Somewhere between Singapore’s F-15SG and the F-15SE Silent Eagle I would imagine. Stay tuned for future developments on this.
Another part of this massive arms sale that cannot be left without being noted is that there is a huge conventional arms buildup happening amongst the oil wealthy Persian Gulf states in fear of their Shiite neighbor to the north, Iran. Further, there can be no doubt that this announcement was timed to coincide with Iran’s naval war games and in reply to their threat to close the Straits Of Hormuz which would tank the world economy and probably start a major regional conflict. Those with the most to lose are major oil exporting nations that ship their “black gold” through the Strait, those mainly being Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
UPDATE: Looks like Boeing will have to contend with a gap in F-15 production between 2013 and 2015. The USAF should step in and buy a squadron or two of the jets at cost. The USAF needs new hardware and the updated F-15E is still an incredibly capable machine. Also, Flightglobal reports that the “F-15SA,” as the new Saudi jets will be called, with pack GE-F110-229 enhanced motors, AESA radars, AIM-9X, and AIM-120C7 AMRAAM air to air missiles. I would imagine these aircraft will have some additional and more elaborate upgrades as well that we will find out about in due time. Most notably Boeing’s new HUDless touchscreen cockpit, updated electronic warfare suite, and even possibly some of the F-15SE’s stealthy enhancements.