Boeing, which manufactures the F-15 series of fighter jets, among other aircraft, uses this airport, which sits adjacent to Scott Air Force Base, to support test and training activities.
According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, F-15QAs have been involved in “training exercises” at MidAmerica since February. A tweet that month from Scott Air Force Base’s official Twitter account confirmed that training of Qatari F-15QA pilots and weapon system officers was due to begin at the facility soon and continue “over the next several months.”
Last November, Boeing announced three Foreign Military Sales contracts with the U.S. Air Force for training services and support in the Middle East valued at more than $800 million. The first of these was a previously unannounced contract awarded in 2019 to support the Qatar Emiri Air Force with F-15QA program management, maintenance, and aircrew training valued at $240 million over a five-year contract period.
“Training will include in-person instruction, simulation events, and flying operations and will be held near Boeing’s F-15 production facility in the U.S. through mid-2021,” the manufacturer confirmed in a press release. The program is expected to run for a one-year period.
Subsequently, Boeing plans to establish and operate an aircrew and maintenance training center for the QEAF at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.
Qatar has ordered 36 F-15QAs, which are the first to feature a new Advanced Cockpit System with Large Area Displays, among other improvements. You can read more about these Advanced Eagles here, which is also the variant upon which the U.S. Air Force’s new F-15EX is based.
We will continue to update this story with more information as it becomes available.
Update, 12:20 pm EST: The Air Force has released the following statement that confirms many of the details that we’ve already reported: “An F-15QA, recently accepted by the Air Force from the Boeing Corporation, departed the runway today at MidAmerica Airport, Ill. Two U.S. active-duty pilots who were on board ejected safely and received minor injuries. The aircraft was slated to be transferred to the Qatari Air Force through the Foreign Military Sales program. The incident is currently under investigation.”
Update, 13:20 pm EST: A report from Military.com has confirmed that the mishap, which occurred on landing, involved crew from the U.S. Air Force and Navy. Both pilots sustained minor injuries, but only one was taken to hospital, as per the previous account. Both pilots are assigned to the Defense Contract Management Agency, which works with contractors to ensure equipment delivery, the aircraft in question having been handed over by Boeing earlier this week.
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