Israel makes formal request for US to send 25 F-15 EX fighters

Israel made its original request for the fighter jets in 2020, but the sale was held up because of political turmoil.

 AN ISRAELI F-15 takes part in an international aerial training exercise in October at the Uvda Air Force Base. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
AN ISRAELI F-15 takes part in an international aerial training exercise in October at the Uvda Air Force Base.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

After years of delay, the Ministry of Defense has officially requested 25 F-15 EX fighters from the US, according to the Breaking Defense outlet, confirmed also by the Jerusalem Post.

Quoting industry sources, the report said that Israel sent an official Letter of Request (LOR) to the US government in recent days.

The Post understands that the issue has been a top priority for Israel and for Boeing, who produces the F-15 EX fighter, for years, but was delayed mostly by five rounds of elections and several years of Israeli government’ failing to pass a budget.

Former prime minister Naftali Bennett declined to comment about why the purchase of the aircraft had not moved forward during his term, the first time a budget was in fact passed over a multi-year period. 

Letters of request are an interim step in the foreign military sale process, with details regarding numbers and pricing still left to be finalized.

It has been and is expected that Israel will request even more F-15 EX aircraft going forward.

 US Air Force F-15 fighter jets are seen on the tarmac during the Clear Sky 2018 multinational military drills at Starokostiantyniv Air Base in Khmelnytskyi Region, Ukraine October 12, 2018. (credit: GLEB GARANICH/REUTERS) US Air Force F-15 fighter jets are seen on the tarmac during the Clear Sky 2018 multinational military drills at Starokostiantyniv Air Base in Khmelnytskyi Region, Ukraine October 12, 2018. (credit: GLEB GARANICH/REUTERS)

After a 2020 government decision to purchase more F-35s and updated F-15 EXs, only a deal with Lockheed Martin to purchase more F-35s was signed, with the F-15 EX deal being delayed.

The Post understands that it could still take years until the F-15 EXs are actually delivered to Israel, with Breaking Defense giving a 2028 estimate.

Why are the F-15s so essential?

According to Boeing, the F15-EX “carries more weapons than any other fighter in its class, and can launch hypersonic weapons up to 22 feet long and weigh up to 7,000 pounds.”

The IAF currently operates 50 F-15 A/B/C/D variants and 25 F-15 I variants, with special Israeli-made adaptations .

Israel’s decision to purchase F-15 EXs and more F-35s – it has been operating some F-35s since 2016 - was based on the potential need to strike Iran, including multiple waves of aircraft to take out both the Islamic Republic’s improved air defense systems, followed by its nuclear facilities.

Tehran already has the Russian-made S-300 air defense system and there are concerns that Moscow will sell it the S-400 system as well.

 An Israeli F-15 fighter jet is seen from behind at Uvda Airbase in southern Israel. (credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS) An Israeli F-15 fighter jet is seen from behind at Uvda Airbase in southern Israel. (credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

Updating and replacing Israel’s aging fleet of older versions of the F-15 attack aircraft is also essential for eliminating Hezbollah’s precision rocket stockpile in the event of a war with Lebanon.

Before IDF chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. (res.) Aviv Kochavi ended his term on January 16, he told the Post that if a new war breaks out with Hezbollah, Israel would unleash “waves of firepower” that would send Lebanon 50 years back in time.