AL UDEID AIR BASE, QATAR –
Many military leaders can attest that the ability to conduct operations and win in modern warfare is rooted in a nation’s ability to work by, with, and through allies and partners.
For the United States and U.S. Air Forces Central Command, the ability to conduct and deliver combat airpower alongside partner air forces has increased as its close partner, Qatar, has solidified details and logistics with U.S. government organizations and contractors to procure its own fleet of 48 F-15QA fighter jets. The Qatar Emiri Air Force is scheduled to start receiving these fighter jets in June 2021. The F-15QA is the most advanced version of the F-15 Eagle, the twin-engine fighter jet flown by the U.S. Air Force since 1972.
“Qatar is in a period of incredible growth in terms of military acquisitions and capability,” said Chuck Kowalski, a member of the AFCENT coalition interoperability team. “Given their small size and population relative to their neighbors, they are forced to take a quality over quantity approach to their military acquisitions with a focus on air superiority and integrated air and missile defense.”
In July of 2013, the Qatari Emiri Air Force submitted a $6 billion request for up to 72 of the fighter jets, enough to supply three squadrons, along with infrastructure to support. The force will be fully interoperable with AFCENT and coalition aircraft.
The F-15QA is a dual-role fighter designed to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. The aircraft can take off with nearly 30,000 pounds of munitions and reach a maximum ceiling of approximately 70,000 feet.
“The F-15QA aircraft is the most advanced version of the fighter ever built,” said a Boeing corporation representative. “It brings to its operators next-generation technologies such as fly-by-wire flight controls, digital cockpit, modernized sensors, radar, and electronic warfare capabilities, and the world's fastest mission computer. Increases in reliability, sustainability and maintainability allow defense operators to affordably remain ahead of current and evolving threats. The F-15QA’s advances will enable it to bolster the U.S. and allied coalition’s ability to project lethal force and protect allied forces and locations.”
With the purchase of this fleet, U.S. and Qatari forces, along with coalition partners, will continue to conduct missions to provide war-winning airpower in operations throughout the region.
To ensure that future operations are a success, the A6 coalition interoperability team is charged with maximizing interoperability between U.S. and partner nation assets. This typically includes secure capabilities like radios, tactical data links that increase situational awareness and automate data sharing, GPS navigation and targeting, and an air traffic control system that is used to identify and track military aircraft.
“Since the beginning of the Global War on Terrorism, Qatar has been a steadfast ally, allowing the basing of U.S. forces on their sovereign territory, overflight, and contributing assets and resources in many other ways to our shared goals,” Kowalski said. “Because Qatar wisely prioritized interoperability, it should allow them to seamlessly integrate into AFCENT operations. From mission planning, to targeteering and mission execution, they will theoretically be able to drop-in like any other AFCENT fighter.”
These enhanced capabilities maximize the flexibility available to the Combined Forces Air Component Commander in a coalition environment where partner nations contribute assets to the fight, Kowalski said. In addition to the technical advantages of interoperability, it also requires agreements, policies, and a common command and control network in order to allow different nations to fight as one concreted force.
Following the initial F-15QA delivery to the Qatar Emiri Air Force in the summer of 2021, the force is expected to reach initial operational capability in the summer of 2022.