Editor’s Note: Caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, Boeing has some decisions to make. In light of the company’s recent attempt to protest the LRS-B award to Northrop-Grumman–and coming up short, Boeing Defense could use a shot in the arm. A lot of nations have expressed interest in the Silent Eagle, but so far no orders have been placed. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this one to see how it all pans out, and whether or not Israel’s protest is enough to keep the Eaglejet moving forward.

Israel’s opposition to Qatar buying F-15SE Silent Eagles could mark the end of Boeing’s venerable F-15 production line in Missouri unless Washington acts against its closest regional ally’s wishes or agrees to billions in more aid, allowing Israel to place its own new orders.

The Israeli Air Force has expressed interest in two additional squadrons of F-15Is equipped with AESA radars, a package estimated at some $10 billion.

But Israel’s ability to sign on to new Boeing jets – and thus prolong the line for another four years – depends on the ultimate size of a new US aid package that Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said should be concluded by the two countries “in the coming weeks.”

Could Israel's Ire Mean The End Of F-15 Production?
The F-15SE Silent Eagle, seen here at Boeing’s St. Louis Headquarters. (Photo courtesy of Boeing Defense)

If the ultimate top line of the package comes in around $40 billion, Israeli sources say they will have to limit fighter procurement to additional squadrons of F-35s. But if that number is closer to $50 billion over a 10-year period starting in 2018, Israel will be able to accommodate new F-15I buys, Israeli military and civilian sources said.

Israeli angst over the potential US deal with Qatar, which is looking to build its fleet up to 72 fighters, has resulted in a two-year delay that has already driven Doha to embrace the French Rafale as an alternative to a portion of the fighters initially planned for purchase from the US.

And if Boeing does not secure firm orders in the coming months, it will begin the process of shutting down its 40-year-old F-15 production line in St. Louis, Missouri, by early summer, government and industry sources say.

The full article at Defense News can be read here.