An F-15QA Eagle multirole fighter jet destined for Qatar declared an emergency upon landing and then left the runway at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Illinois Tuesday morning, an Air Force official told Air Force Times.
Both U.S. Air Force active-duty pilots on board “ejected safely and sustained only minor injuries,” according to U.S. Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek. The airport is just northeast of Scott Air Force Base.
The Eagle had recently been accepted by the U.S. Air Force from the Boeing Co., Stefanek said in a statement. “The aircraft was slated to be transferred to the Qatari Air Force through the Foreign Military Sales program. The incident is currently under investigation.”
The mishap occurred at about 7:30 a.m., a Boeing official told KMOV4, the CBS TV affiliate in St. Louis. “The two pilots were taken for treatment, where both were expected to be okay,” the station reported.
The State Department approved the sale of F-15QA planes to Qatar in November 2016. At the time, the Qatari deal, coupled with the approval of a sale of Super Hornets to Kuwait, was considered a coup for Boeing, which manufactures both planes and was banking on foreign sales to extend the life of its fighter jet lines into the 2020s. The Eagle is manufactured at Boeing’s St. Louis plant.
The $12 billion deal with Qatar, inked in 2017, included 36 aircraft, their associated weapons systems, U.S.-based training, maintenance support equipment, and logistics support, among other items. The first aircraft are being delivered this year.
“The [Qatari air force] will send pilots and weapon system operators to the U.S., where the aircrews will learn how to independently operate the F-15QA ahead of receiving their new aircraft,” Boeing said then of the pre-delivery training contract, according to a flightglobal.com report in November 2020. “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.”
Boeing will establish and run an aircrew and maintenance training center at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, which will be operated through 2024, flightglobal.com reported.
The U.S. Air Force’s new F-15EX aircraft is based on the QA. Boeing has delivered the first of 144 Eagle IIs to the Air Force, and the first squadron is expected to become operational in 2023.of those fighters is scheduled to come online in 2023.
Defense News reporters Valerie Insinna and Aaron Mehta contributed to this report.