US Air Force (USAF) fans will need no introduction to the F-15E Strike Eagle, which has been serving as a dual-role fighter for the last 30 years. In fact, September 30th 2019 will mark the 30th anniversary of the F-15E’s official operational status.But what many aircraft fans may not know, is that the F-15E almost never came into being in the first place.
F-15E Strike Eagle OriginsThe F-15E was quietly proposed to the USAF as a replacement to their own fleet of F-4 Phantoms in the late seventies and as an upgrade on the existing F-15s, but there was a serious lack of official interest due to its design focus on air interdiction missions.
Fortunately, the defense contractor McDonnell Douglas quietly went back to the drawing board and began developing an aircraft capable of carrying out the dual roles of air-to-air and air-to-ground.
In 1981, the USAF launched the Dual-Role Fighter (DRF) competition, inviting proposals from multiple defense contractors, however the F-15E beat out the competition and was commissioned for development in 1984, with the first test flights taking place in 1985.
F-15E Features and DesignThe F-15E Strike Eagle is quite a departure from the original F-15 since it was designed originally as an air-superiority fighter.
Yet despite the fact that this iteration is designed for ground-attack, it has lost none of its air-to-air capabilities, which has seen the original F-15 clock up over 100 victories for zero losses in aerial combat.
The engines are much more powerful on the F-15E than on the original F-15, and somewhat unusually for a two-seater fighter jet, the rear seat (reserved for the Weapons Systems Operator) comes with piloting capabilities, albeit with reduced visibility.
The F-15E is also equipped with all of the latest anti-radar equipment, which helps it to deliver a maximum payload of 23,000lb undetected. Those payloads are guided by a state-of-the-art display system, which provides high-quality ground images from thousands of feet in the sky.
The F-15E has primarily seen action in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya, amongst other countries.
The first serious conflict the F-15E was widely involved in was the Gulf War, playing a key role in Operation Desert Storm. They managed to destroy 18 Iraqi ground-based jets, a helicopter in air-to-air combat, and further helicopters in a air-to-grounds attack.
The F-15E also rose to prominence during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan during 2001, carrying out many bombing campaigns in support of troops on the ground.
More recently, F-15 Strike Eagles have been increasing involved in the fight against ISIS in Syria. They have recorded attacks on: training compounds, headquarters, command and control facilities, storage facilities, a finance center, supply trucks, and armed vehicles.
Their disruptive influence on the enemy helped allied forces to claim the defeat of the so-called Islamic State in the latter half of 2019.
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Along with the F-35 Lightning II, the F-15 Strike Eagle is one of the most iconic jets to see service in the US Air Force over the last 30 years.Relieve your days as an airmen or fulfil your aircraft collection with one of the deadliest dual-role fighters there’s ever been.
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