F-15E fighters, one of the deadliest in history, recently grabbed headlines for their involvement in the “tit for tat” attacks that took place between the United States and Iranian-backed militants last week.
On March 23, an American contractor was killed in Syria when an Iranian-made kamikaze drone attacked a compound in which US military personnel were located.
In response, The United States sent two F-15E fighters to attack assets used by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. of Iran (IRGC). The F-15E retaliatory strikes were ordered in direct response to the deadly UAV attack.
However, Iranian-backed militants have carried out 78 attacks on US troops and facilities in Syria since the beginning of the year. Although US authorities have yet to reveal the exact damage caused by the pair of F-15E fighters, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the airstrikes “left eight Iranian-backed militants dead: six in the Harabesh warehouse and two in the position of the outskirts of Al-Mayadeen”.
During the Vietnam War, the United States Department of Defense saw a need for a superior aerial combat aircraft. At this time, the Air Force established its FX contest and manufacturer McDonnell Douglas submitted its F-15 design. Drawing on lessons learned during the Vietnam War about the changing nature of air-to-air combat, McDonnel created the formidable fighter that still takes the skies today.
After more than two years of testing and evaluation, state-of-the-art fighter beat out competing jets and McDonnell officially won the contract. The F-15A made its first flight in 1972 and was delivered to the 58th Tactical Fighter Training Wing a couple of years later.
Despite this airframe was a game changer in many ways, the Air Force continued to desire a platform that could fly at lower altitudes. The F-15E Strike Eagle filled this need.
Originally derived from the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, the F-15E Strike Eagle was designed in the 1980s. To find a worthy successor to the F-111, the United States Air Force launched the Enhanced Tactical Fighter program, later named the Dual-Role Fighter contest.
In 1983, the F-15E was selected as the winner of the program, in part due to low airframe development costs and its potential for future growth.
Why is the F-15E so special?
The F-15E has proven to be a critical platform in the air arsenal of the US Air Force throughout the years. In addition to its MACH 2.5 top speed, the fighter can carry a range of advanced ordnance, including air-to-air Sidewinders, Sparrows, small diameter bombs, and JCAMS.
This deadly fighter plane stands apart from other Eagle models for its shaped fuel tanks, its two-seater cockpit for the pilot and the darker camouflage of its fuselage.
The Eagle’s head-up display, which projects crucial flight information onto the windshield, is another feature that sets it apart from other similar aircraft. Regarding electronics, the Eagle is equipped with modern technology such as radar and tactical navigation systems.
According to the Air Force, “the APG-70 radar system allows aircrews to detect ground targets at great distances. One of the characteristics of this system is that, after sweeping the target area, crew freezes air-to-ground map and reverts to air-to-air mode to clear the area for air threats.”
“During the launch of the air-to-ground weapon, the pilot is able to identify, target and engage air-to-air targets while the WSO marks the ground target.” In the short decades since its first flight, the F-15 Eagle and its many iterations have earned a distinguished history in the skies. The fuselage has undergone several renovations throughout its life. and continues to present improvements in its capabilities.
The F-15E Strike Eagle will remain in service for the foreseeable future despite the development of new fifth-generation platforms such as the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II.