The F-15E Strike Eagle is an American all-weather ground attack strike fighter. It was designed in the 1980s for long-range, high speed interdiction without relying on escort or electronic warfare aircraft. The Strike Eagle, a major derivative of the F-15 Eagle air superiority fighter proved its worth in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Allied Force, carrying out deep strikes against high-value targets, combat air patrols, and providing close air support for coalition troops. It has also seen action in later conflicts and has been exported to several countries.
The United States Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles can be distinguished from other U.S. Eagle variants by darker camouflage and conformal fuel tanks mounted along the engine intakes.
In 1979, McDonnell Douglas and F-15 radar manufacturer, Hughes teamed to privately develop a strike version of the F-15. In March 1981, the USAF announced the Enhanced Tactical Fighter (ETF) program to procure a replacement for the F-111 Aardvark. The concept envisioned an aircraft capable of launching deep interdiction missions without requiring additional support by fighter escort or jamming. General Dynamics submitted the F-16XL, while McDonnell Douglas submitted a variant of the F-15 Eagle with two seats. On 24 February 1984, the USAF awarded the ETF contract to McDonnell Douglas’ F-15E Strike Eagle. One of the prime reasons the Air Force selected the F-15E over the F-16XL was the F-15E’s 40% lower development costs. Also, the F-15E had more room for growth and has better survivability with two engines. The Air Force initially planned to purchase 392 F-15Es.
The F-15E’s first flight was on 11 December 1986. The first production model of the F-15E was delivered to the 405th Tactical Training Wing, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., in April 1988. The “Strike Eagle”, as it was dubbed, received initial operational capability on 30 September 1989 at Seymour Johnson AFB in North Carolina with the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing, 336th Tactical Fighter Squadron.
Variants of the F-15E have been developed for Israel (F-15I), Korea (F-15K), Saudi Arabia (F-15S), and Singapore (F-15SG).