An F-15E Strike Eagle flies over Afghanistan. The F-15E's primary role in Afghanistan is providing close-air support for ground troops. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon)

An F-15E Strike Eagle flies over Afghanistan. The F-15E’s primary role in Afghanistan is providing close-air support for ground troops. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon)

The E-model F-15s were entered into operational service in 1989 and quickly became the pride-and-joy of the USAF. It is an all-weather, dual-role fighter, capable of low-altitude and night operations. Its dual-role makes it both an air-to-air fighter and a strike fighter, hence its designation as the “Strike Eagle.”

The E-model’s main purpose is to fight its way into a target zone, deliver its payload, then fight its way out (if necessary). In order to accomplish such a feat, the initial F-15 design had to be slightly modified. To maintain the impressive performance of the F-15 whilst giving it an even more devastating armament, E-models have Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 turbofan engines, which produce a combined thrust of 58,000 pounds.

In addition to more powerful engines, the E-model is equipped with a vast array of sensors, advanced targeting suites and the APG-70 radar system. With so much technology crammed into the jet, along with its need to carry a myriad of weapons for its mission possibilities, the airframe of the F-15E looks slightly different from its predecessors. In fact, E-models are quite intimidating.

The intakes appear more bulbous and bigger and the material of the airframe is darker. Looking at the jet head-on, especially when next to a previous model, it appears more muscular. Its very appearance telegraphs its purpose and efficiency; this aircraft will accomplish its mission in a most bombastic fashion. Despite its large and powerful appearance, it is still just as fast and maneuverable as any other F-15, making it a double threat.

Making it even more deadly is the efficiency in which it can accomplish its mission. The E-model’s avionics are constantly at work, scanning and sensing. In order to keep track of all the incoming information, E-models require a second officer. Unlike the back seat of the B-and-D-models–which are for instruction purposes–the back seat of E-models is for a WSO. A WSO (pronounced “wiz-o” and meaning Weapons System Officer) manages all the combat data on four screens in the cockpit and designates ground targets. This allows the pilot to focus on flying and air-to-air threats.

The F-15E has brought the USAF into the 21st century, its many improvements from previous models being incorporated into current and future fighter jets.

Specifications

General

General characteristics

Crew: Two
Length: 63.8 ft
Wingspan: 42.8 ft
Height: 18.5 ft
Empty weight: 31,700 lb
Max. takeoff weight: 81,000 lb
Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney F100-229 afterburning turbofans, 29,000 lbf each

Performance

Maximum speed: Mach 2.5+
Combat radius: 790 mi
Ferry range: 2,400 mi with external fuel tanks
Ceiling: 60,000 ft
Rate of climb: 50,000+ ft/min
Thrust/weight: 0.93

Armament

Guns: 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannon, 510 rounds
Hardpoints: 2 wing pylons, fuselage pylons, bomb racks on CFTs with a capacity of 23,000 lb of external fuel and ordnance

Missiles:

  • Air-to-air missiles:
    • AIM-9M Sidewinder
    • AIM-120 AMRAAM
    • AIM-7M Sparrow
  • Air-to-surface missiles:

    • AGM-65 Maverick
    • AGM-130
    • AGM-84 Harpoon
    • AGM-84K SLAM-ER
    • AGM-154 JSOW
    • AGM-158 JASSM

Bombs: B61 nuclear bomb, Mark 82, Mark 84, CBU-87 Combined Effects Munition, CBU-89 Gator, CBU-97 Sensor Fuzed Weapon, CBU-103 CEM, CBU-104 Gator, CBU-105 SFW, CBU-107 Passive Attack Weapon, GBU-10 Paveway II, GBU-12 Paveway II, GBU-15, GBU-24 Paveway III, GBU-27 Paveway III, GBU-28, GBU-31 JDAM, GBU-38 JDAM, GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb, GBU-51 Paveway II, GBU-54 Laser JDAM

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