The F-15Is landed in Hatzerim Airbase 17 years ago and became the leading strike fighters of the IAF ever since
Noa Fenigstein | Translation: Eden Sharon
17 years ago, thousands of people arrived at Hatzerim Airbase to witness the landing of the new fighter jet of the IAF. Accompanied by a couple of F-15s and Mirages, the F-15I flew above the viewers’ heads, leaving a strong impression.
In the early 90s, a need for a new, more advanced fighter jet rose and the winner was the American F-15 “Strike Eagle”, which became the F-15I after Israeli systems installed in it. The jet found home in the “Hammers” squadron in Hatzerim Airbase.
To this day, the mighty sound of the F-15I’s engines cannot be ignored and it is still considered the most advanced, strategic jet of the IAF. The ability to fly long distances and carry extremely large weights makes the F-15I impressive not only because of its deafening engine sound, but also thanks to its unimaginable operational capabilities.
“The F-15I is still our strategic jet. It holds the largest number of capabilities and has the ability to carry many weapons and reach far destinations”, says Major A, Head of F-15I Branch. “Our missions vary from routine missions related to the combat formation to special missions which will remain confidential”.
Catching up with the F-35
Although the F-15I has passed its 16th year, it is still in its adolescence: In the next few years, new operational systems will be installed in it, as well as new missiles and weapons. “We always try to keep the F-15I in the frontline of technology”, says Major A.
A new radar, one of the most advanced of its kind, is scheduled to be implemented in the jet in the coming years.
“We are catching up with the abilities of the F-35”, says Major A. “There is no doubt that the F-15I will remain a key player in the next decades”.