F-15E Strike Eagle fighter-bomber
The F-15E is the two-seat, dual-role version of the earlier F-15C air superiority fighter. The Strike Eagle is a dynamic aircraft capable of both fighter and strike missions. The Air Force selected the F-15E over the exotically-designed F-16XL for its multi-role strike aircraft requirement in the early 1980s.
The Strike Eagle entered service in 1988, and has seen considerable combat action in a variety of American military campaigns since then. Strike Eagles have participated in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Operation Allied Force in 1999, Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001 and currently in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The F-15E can carry a wide variety of strike and air-to-air weaponry such as the Raytheon [RTN] AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile, and in particular can deliver the GBU-28 5,000-pound "bunker buster" bomb and the AGM-130 built by Boeing [BA].
Variants of the F-15E in foreign service includeIsrael, which operates the F-15I "Thunder" and Saudi Arabia, which operates the less sophisticated F-15S. South Korea picked the F-15K for its FX requirement over the Rafale offered by FranceÃs Dassault Aviation. Each version of the F-15E offers a different degree of sophistication. In fact, the K-model for South Korea will have more smart weapons hardpoints, the capacity to fire BoeingÃs Standoff Land Attack Missile-Extended Response, and provisions for GPS jam-proofing. The advanced systems on the F-15K would make it technologically slightly more advanced to the Air ForceÃs F-15Es. Air Force Secretary James Roche has reiterated this point in a variety of forums.
The F-15E is a targeted for a variety of weapons and systems upgrades even as Lockheed MartinÃs F/A-22 fighter enters service. For example, the Air Force may install components of RaytheonÃs Advanced Electronically Scanned Array radar on both C and E-model F-15s. Presently the F-15E utilizes the APG-70 built by Raytheon. Plus, the F-15E is scheduled to be the first aircraft to receive the 250-pound Small Diameter Bomb (SDB). SDB is slated for service in 2006. F-15E is also the only active-duty Air Force fighter operating Northrop GrummanÃs [NOC] LITENING Extended Range targeting and navigation pod. The F-15E will also eventually receive Lockheed MartinÃs Sniper advanced targeting pod as well.