Editor’s Note: Like the Eagjets flown in the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Japan, Israel’s F-15I “Ra’am” is an old aircraft. While the Kheil HaAvir has done a fantastic job maintaining and upgrading the airplanes it has to keep them relevant and some would say superior to other Eagles around the world, it’s still a forty-year-old design and in desperate need of additional upgrades.

The enhancement has been mooted for some time, but Tel Aviv has recently given the green light to the program.

Modifications will include structural changes, the addition of an active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar, updated avionics and new, unspecified weapon systems.

A selection process for the radar is ongoing, with a decision due mid-year. It is thought Israel favours the Raytheon APG-82(V)1 radar selected by the US Air Force for its F-15Es.

Lt Col Yiftach, head of the Israeli air force’s aircraft branch, told the service’s website, although some missions will eventually pass to the F-35, the Boeing type will remain a “strategic aircraft.”

Two Israeli Defense Force-Air Force F-15D Eagle aircraft practice air defense maneuvers mission over the Nevada Test and Training Ranges, at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada (NV), during Exercise RED FLAG 04-3. Exercise RED FLAG is a realistic combat training exercise involving the Air Forces of the US and its Allies.
Two Israeli Defense Force-Air Force F-15D Eagle aircraft practice air defense maneuvers mission over the Nevada Test and Training Ranges, at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada (NV), during Exercise RED FLAG 04-3. Exercise RED FLAG is a realistic combat training exercise involving the Air Forces of the US and its Allies. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

“When we want to reach far distances with few aircraft and many arms – the F-15I wins,” he says, noting its “great carrying abilities”.

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Yiftach says: “There is a reason it hasn’t stopped flying and conducting missions after 18 years. As an aircraft that only operates with one squadron, it has every extreme ability we would want our aircraft to have.”

It will also take time to integrate weapons onto the F-35, says Yiftach.

Flightglobal’s Fleets Analyzer database records the service as operating 25 F-15Is, along with a combined 42 A/C-models.

The original article can be viewed on FlightGlobal here.

(Featured photo courtesy of Airplane Wallpapers)