One of the fighter jets most associated with Israel is the F-15 Eagle. The first F-15 touched down in Israel in 1976 and the jet has served continuously—and without defeat—since. In 1998, the Israeli Air Force introduced a new version of the jet, one designed for air-to-air and air-to-ground combat. The Ra’am (Thunder) serves as the long-range striking arm of the Israeli Air Force, complementing the new F-35I Adir fighter to ensure Israeli air superiority now and into the foreseeable future.
The earliest versions of the McDonnell Douglas (today Boeing) F-15 Eagle were pure air-to-air fighters. Large twin-engine, single-seat fighters, they featured a bubble canopy for excellent visibility, a powerful APG-63 radar, a combat load of four AIM-7 Sparrow radar-guided missiles and four AIM-9 Sidewinder infrared-guided missiles, and an M61 Gatling gun. The two Pratt & Whitney F100 engines gave the F-15 such an impressive power-to-weight ratio that the new jet could easily accelerate straight up.
The F-15 was large and versatile enough that engineers considered a multirole version, one that took advantage of the F-15’s power, range, and size to carry air-to-ground weapons. This led to the development of the F-15E Strike Eagle, which entered service with the U.S. Air Force in 1989 and promptly saw service in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
The Strike Eagle’s performance in the Gulf War stirred Israeli interest. The Gulf War had not exactly gone as planned for Tel Aviv, which had been bombarded by Scud missiles launched by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Israel acquiesced to U.S. pressure not to retaliate, but even if it had decided to do so it lacked the long-range aircraft and reconnaissance assets necessary to hunt Scud launchers in Western Iraq. Saddam Hussein remained in power after the war to eject his army from Kuwait, ensuring that Iraq would remain a threat to Israel. Meanwhile, Iran was in the early stages of its nuclear weapons program. A long-range fighter would be a necessary weapon for deterring, or failing that destroying, threats from the east.
An Israeli Strike Eagle would go a long way toward fixing the Israeli Air Force’s shortcomings. The F-15E’s conformal fuel tanks would add range the range necessary to attack long-range targets. The dual air-to-air/air-to-ground capability meant an F-15E could self-escort if necessary. (In 1981, Israeli F-15s escorted F-16s tasked to destroy the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak, enlarging the air group and the need for aerial refueling and other support.) A single plane that could do it all, that the Israel Air Force already knew very well, was an intriguing option.
Do You Know What Happened Today In History?
Israel selected the F-15I, or Ra’am, in May 1994 with an initial agreement to buy twenty-one aircraft (known as Peace Fox V) with a further option for four more (Peace Fox VI.) The order was increased to twenty-five aircraft in 1995. The F-15 had already served in the Israeli Air Force for fifteen years, and Israeli engineers had plenty of ideas on how to improve on the platform. Israeli Aerospace Industries worked with manufacturer Boeing (which had since purchased McDonnell Douglas) to contribute many of the aircraft’s avionics.
The F-15I hosted a number of indigenous features. The aircraft had an Israeli-made central computer, GPS/inertial guidance system, and an Elbit display and sight helmet (DASH). The airplanes were delivered with electronic warfare systems built into the F-15E, instead of using the Israeli Elisra SPS-2110 Integrated Electronic Warfare System.
The F-15I could carry all the weapons Israeli F-15As carried and then some. The Ra’am initially carried AIM-9L Sidewinder and Python infrared-guided short-range missiles, but time has narrowed that down to the Python. The fighter also carried both the older AIM-7 Sparrow and newer AIM-120 AMRAAM radar-guided medium-range missile.
The F-15I’s twin engines and large airframe mean can carry up to 18,000 pounds of fuel and munitions. The Israeli Air Force originally described the jet’s ordnance load as thirty-six Rockeye cluster bombs or six Maverick air-to-ground missiles. Today, the F-15I’s air-to-ground munitions set has expanded to include Paveway laser-guided bombs, Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) satellite-guided bombs, BLU-109 “bunker-buster” bombs, the SPICE precision-guided bomb, and AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missiles.
The first F-15I arrived in Israel in 1997, with new aircraft arriving at about once a month until the order was fulfilled in 1999. The aircraft served continuously over the past twenty years, not only in training exercises but anti-terrorism operations, the 2006 Lebanon War, the Gaza War, Operation Pillar of Defense, and Operation Cast Lead. The F-15Is were also heavily involved in Israeli planning to strike Iranian nuclear facilities had Iran, a strike headed off by the signing of the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the West.
The IAF’s adoption of the F-35I “Adir” fighter did not dampen the country’s enthusiasm for the F-15. The IAF still calls the aircraft its “strategic aircraft,” with the head of the Air Force stating, “At the end of the day, when we want to reach far distances with few aircraft many arms – the F-15I wins.”
In 2016, Israel announced the start of an upgrade program meant to keep the F-15I relevant, including a new active, electronically-scanned array radar and updated avionics. In 2018, the IAF was reportedly torn between purchasing F-15I and F-35 fighters, leaning towards the former over the latter. If Israel purchases more F-15s, it will almost certainly end up flying the platform for the better part of a century. That’s a ringing endorsement for a warplane first flown in the early 1970s.
Kyle Mizokami is a writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in The Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and The Daily Beast. In 2009 he co-founded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch.
Menachem Begin in December 1942 wearing the Polish Army uniform of Gen. Anders’ forces with his wife Aliza and David Yutan; (back row) Moshe Stein and Israel Epstein
(photo credit: JABOTINSKY ARCHIVES)
During the inauguration of a memorial to the victims of the Siege of Leningrad in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park on January 24, 2020, before the climax of Holocaust remembrance events at which Russian President Vladimir Putin was given a central platform, we were stunned to hear a rendition of The Blue Kerchief (Siniy
Giant figures are seen during the 87th carnival parade of Aalst February 15, 2015
The annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium, is expected to take place on Sunday with even more antisemitic elements than in previous years.
Aalst’s organizers have sold hundreds of “rabbi kits” for revelers to dress as hassidic Jews in the carnival’s parade. The kit includes oversized noses, sidelocks (peyot) and black hats. The organizers plan to bring back floats similar to the one displayed in 2019 featuring oversized dolls of Jews, with rats on their shoulders, holding banknotes.
Pope Francis waves as he arrives at the Basilica of Saint Nicholas in the southern Italian coastal city of Bari, Italy February 23, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Remo Casilli.
Pope Francis on Sunday warned against “inequitable solutions” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying they would only be a prelude to new crises, in an apparent reference to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal.
Francis made his comments in the southern Italian port city of Bari, where he traveled to conclude a meeting of bishops from all countries in the Mediterranean basin.
Palestinians walk past a shop selling fruits in Ramallah, Feb. 20, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Mohamad Torokman.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have reached an agreement to end a five-month long trade dispute, officials said on Thursday.
The dispute, which opened a new front in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, began in September when the PA announced a boycott of Israel calves. The PA exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank under interim peace deals.
Antisemitic caricatures on display at the annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium. Photo: Raphael Ahren via Twitter.
Disturbing images emerged on Sunday of the annual carnival at Aalst, Belgium, showing an astounding number of antisemitic themes, costumes, displays and statements.
Israeli journalist Raphael Ahren documented people dressed as caricatures of Orthodox Jews, a fake “wailing wall” attacking critics of the parade, blatantly antisemitic characters and puppets wearing traditional Jewish clothes and sporting huge noses.
The stench of anti-Semitism always hovers over Switzerland’s Lake Geneva when the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is meeting there. The foul emanations reached a new nadir last week with UNHRC’s publication of a “database” of companies doing business in the disputed territories in Israel.
Following the publication of the list, Bruno Stagno Ugarte, deputy director for advocacy of NGO Human Rights Watch, stated, “The long-awaited release of the U.N. settlement business database should put all companies on notice: To do business with illegal settlements [sic] is to aid in the commission of war crimes.”
One of the many things that annoys me about politicians is how sure they are of themselves. Everything is black and white. Every idea is good or bad. Take globalism, for example. You either love it or hate it. It works or it doesn’t.
Another thing that annoys me is how so much of a politician’s life revolves around power: Do everything you can to get it, and everything you can to keep it.
Why am I ranting? Because, while our politicians have been consumed with power and the media with the fights over power, a threat to our nation has been virtually ignored.
Blue and White Party leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid are establishing their diplomatic credentials in the immediate run-up to Israel’s March 2 election with an insult to a U.S. administration that has arguably provided Israel with more diplomatic gains than any previous administration.
The Times of Israel reported that at a campaign stop in front of English-speaking Israelis, Gantz accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “of neglecting bipartisan ties in favor of exclusive support from U.S. President Donald Trump’s Republican Party,” under the headline “Gantz pledges to mend ties with U.S. Democrats if elected.”
Bipartisanship was in short supply at the State of the Union address earlier this month—with one notable exception.
Nancy Pelosi had been looking dyspeptic, shuffling the papers she would later rip to shreds, when President Donald Trump reminded his audience that “the United States is leading a 59-nation diplomatic coalition against the socialist dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.”
Suddenly, the House Speaker applauded. Trump then introduced “the true and legitimate president of Venezuela: Juan Guaidó.”
The law professor Alan Dershowitz has thrown a legal hand-grenade into America’s political civil war by claiming to have evidence that former President Barack Obama “personally asked” the FBI to investigate someone “on behalf” of Obama’s “close ally,” billionaire financier George Soros.
He made his cryptic remark in an interview defending U.S. President Donald Trump against claims he interfered in the prosecution of his former adviser, Roger Stone.