The US-made F-15SA went down during a training exercise, killing its crew

A Saudi Arabian F-15SA fighter jet has crashed during a training mission near the country’s King Khalid Air Base, killing its two-man crew.

The crash occurred on Wednesday afternoon in Khamis Mushait, in the southwest of the desert kingdom, Saudi Defense Ministry spokesman Brigadier General Turki Al-Maliki said in a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency. The cause of the incident is under investigation.

The air base is located about 815 kilometers (506 miles) from Riyadh. It is about equidistant from the Red Sea coast and the Yemeni border, which are both less than 150 kilometers away. The US-built SA variant of the F-15 fighter jet can fly at speeds up to Mach 2.5, or over 3,000 kilometers per hour.

Washington signed off on Saudi Arabia’s purchase of 84 F-15SA fighters in 2011, a $29.4 billion deal that marked one of the largest US arms sales to a foreign buyer on record. The last of those Boeing-produced jets was delivered to the Royal Saudi Air Force in 2020.

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The US-made jets were instrumental in a Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes on Yemen, starting in 2015. The Royal Saudi Air Force also deployed F-15SA fighters to shoot down Houthi drones that were attacking Saudi oil installations in March 2021. One of the jets went down in the Gulf of Aden in 2015, though its two crewmen were able to eject and survived.

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