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Fly-By-Wire F-15SA makes first flight

An F-15SA makes its first flight over St. Louis on Feb. 20, 2013.  The advanced fighter features a Fly-By-Wire flight control system and is being built by Boeing for the Royal Saudi Air Force.  The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio oversees program management for the foreign military sale, the largest in U.S. history.  (Boeing photo/Kevin Flynn)

An F-15SA makes its first flight over St. Louis Feb. 20, 2013. The advanced fighter features a Fly-By-Wire flight control system and is being built by Boeing for the Royal Saudi Air Force. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, oversees program management for the foreign military sale, the largest in U.S. history. (Boeing photo/Kevin Flynn)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The U.S. Air Force and its prime contractor, Boeing have completed a successful first flight of the new F-15SA advanced fighter aircraft for the Royal Saudi Air Force.

The F-15SA's maiden voyage took place on Feb. 20 at the Boeing facilities in St. Louis, Mo. The flight went as planned, meeting all test objectives to support the aircraft's on-schedule development.

"The successful first flight of the F-15SA is a tremendous milestone for the program and a testament to the relationship between the USAF, Boeing, and our RSAF partners," said Lt. Gen. C. D. Moore II, commander Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. "The F-15SA will add critical capability to the RSAF and enhance the security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

The new aircraft is the centerpiece of the Royal Saudi Air Force F-15 Fleet Modernization Program, a wide-ranging $29.4 billion effort that stands as the largest foreign military sale in U.S. history.

The F-15SA brings improved performance, enhanced situational awareness and increased survivability at a lower total life-cycle cost. Avionics advancements include a Digital Electronic Warfare Suite, Fly-By-Wire flight control system, an Infrared Search and Track system and Active Electronically Scanned Array radar. Forward and aft cockpits feature advanced displays and Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems. Two additional weapon stations provide increased payload capacity.

Col. Robert Stambaugh, the USAF Security Assistance Program Manager for the F-15SA program at Robins AFB, Ga., highlighted the joint efforts of the USAF program office at Wright-Patterson AFB and the Boeing team.

"Col. Rob Strasser and his program team at Wright-Patt were instrumental in overcoming the hurdles encountered in the march to first flight. Completing this major milestone in less than one year after program implementation was truly remarkable."

The F-15SA flight test program will include three instrumented F-15SAs operating from Boeing facilities at St. Louis and Palmdale, Calif. F-15SA new aircraft deliveries to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are scheduled to begin in 2015 and conclude by 2019.