Faced with the potential arrival of Su-35s and S-400s in Iran, Israel formalizes an order for 25 F-15EX from Boeing

The tensions between Jerusalem and Tehran are, today, at the heart of the structural instability of the Middle Eastern theater. These are notably the result of the recurring clashes between the Israeli armed forces and the Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as those with the Iranian militias in Syria. In recent years, however, these tensions have experienced a very noticeable hardening, around the ballistic missile, cruise missile and long-range drone programs developed by the Iranian defense industry, giving its armies effective strike capabilities against the Israeli territory and in particular its critical infrastructures. Above all, the progress made by the Iranian nuclear program is now at the heart of the immediate concerns of Jerusalem, which estimates that Tehran would only be a few months away from having enough refined fissile material to build its first nuclear bomb.

In fact, for more than two years now, air forces train to carry out long-range raids, so as to be able, if necessary, to strike the nuclear infrastructures and the missile sites in Iran. For this, the Israeli Air Force has acquired two squadrons of F-35i stealth fighters, an order of 50 aircraft, a version derived from the Lockheed-Martin F-35A fighter equipped with Israeli systems, in addition to the 25 F-15i, 50 F-15A/B/C/D and 6 squadrons of F-16 C/i. Faced with the rise of the Iranian threat, Jerusalem announced, in 2020, its intention to command a new squadron of F-35i, but also a squadron of new F-15, the first being in charge of eliminating the anti-aircraft defenses, the second of destroying the infrastructures and covering the Lighting against the opposing hunt, if necessary. Due to the political instability of the country, only the order of 25 F-35i was actually formalized. The increasingly flagrant rapprochement between Tehran and Moscow, around the conflict in Ukraine, and its consequences on the acquisition of Russian weapons by Iran, seem to have convinced Jerusalem, which would have formalized, in recent days, the order for 25 F-15EX from Boeing, as well as the conversion of its F-15i to this standard (apart from electric flight controls).

Israel has developed stealth drop tanks to increase the autonomy of its F-35i without altering their stealth

Indeed, beyond the upcoming arrival of 24 to 30 Su-35s in Iran, recent statements by the Russian ambassador to Iran, seems to indicate that Tehran could also receive other weapons systems from Moscow, in particular S-400 anti-aircraft systems. The Israeli Air Force is familiar with this system, in service in Syria to protect Russian infrastructure, and knows how to assess its performance. If such systems were to be deployed in Iran, alongside Su-35s fighters far more efficient than the fighters in service with the Iranian air force, the constraints applied to a possible bombing fleet, and especially to support aircraft such as the tankers and the advanced air warning planes supposed to accompany them, would in fact be much more important. It is in this context that the couple F-35i and F-15EX would make sense.

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