F-15 Eagle / F-15E Strike Eagle, McDonnell Douglas


F-15 Eagle / F-15E Strike Eagle

Big twin-engined air-superiority fighter. The F-15 was the US answer to the MiG-25. While not as fast, it is a better all-round fighter. The armament was optimised to down any opponent, although the basic missile types (AIM-9 and AIM-7) are the same as carried by the F-4. F-15's made nearly all air-to-air 'kills' in the (second) Gulf War. From the F-15 fighter the F-15E two-seat Strike aircraft was developed, which retained its air-to-air combat capability, but added the equipment for all-weather attack missions. The F-15I is an export version for Israel.

Type: F-15C
Country: USA
Export: N/A (F-15E variants in service with Israel, Japan, Saudi Arabia and soon South Korea)
Function: fighter
Year: 1973/1974
Crew: 1
Engines: 2 * 106 kN P&W F100-PW-100
Wing Span: 13.05 m
Length: 19.43 m
Height: 5.63 m
Wing Area: 56.48 m2
Wing Aspect Ratio: 3.01

Max. Speed: Mach 2.5
Ceiling: 19200 m
Empty Weight: 12973 kg
Max.Weight: 30844 kg
Internal Fuel Weight: 6103 kg

Max. Range: 5.25 hrs
Ferry Range: 5745 km
Combat Radius: 1000 km
G-limits: 9/-3.5
Maximum instantaneous turn rate: Unknown
Maximum sustained turn rate: 16 degrees/second
TWR(50% fuel, 2 EM A2A missile, 2 IR A2A missile): ~1.29
TWR(100% fuel, 2 EM A2A missile, 2 IR A2A missile): ~1.08
Armament: 1*g20mm 7300 kg payload
Unit cost: 35 million USD


Features

The Eagle's air superiority is achieved through a mixture of unprecedented manoeuvrability and acceleration, range, weapons and avionics. It can penetrate enemy defence and outperform and outfight any current or projected enemy aircraft. The F-15 has electronic systems and weaponry to detect, acquire, track and attack enemy aircraft while operating in friendly or enemy-controlled airspace. Its weapons and flight control systems are designed so one person can safely and effectively perform air-to-air combat.

The F-15's superior manoeuvrability and acceleration are achieved through high engine thrust-to-weight ratio and low wing loading. Low wing-loading (the ratio of aircraft weight to its wing area) is a vital factor in manoeuvrability and, combined with the high thrust-to-weight ratio, enables the aircraft to turn tightly without losing airspeed.

A multi mission avionics system sets the F-15 apart from other fighter aircraft. It includes a head-up display, advanced radar, inertial navigation system, flight instruments, UHF communications, tactical navigation system and instrument landing system. It also has an internally mounted, tactical electronic-warfare system, "identification friend or foe" system, electronic countermeasures set and a central digital computer.

Through an on-going multistage improvement program the F-15 is receiving extensive upgrade involving the installation or modification of new and existing avionics equipment to enhance the tactical capabilities of the F-15.

The head-up display projects on the windscreen all essential flight information gathered by the integrated avionics system. This display, visible in any light condition, provides the pilot information necessary to track and destroy an enemy aircraft without having to look down at cockpit instruments.
The F-15's versatile pulse-Doppler radar system can look up at high-flying targets and down at low-flying targets without being confused by ground clutter. It can detect and track aircraft and small high-speed targets at distances beyond visual range down to close range, and at altitudes down to tree-top level. The radar feeds target information into the central computer for effective weapons delivery. For close-in dog fights, the radar automatically acquires enemy aircraft, and this information is projected on the head-up display.
An inertial navigation system enables the Eagle to navigate anywhere in the world. It gives aircraft position at all times as well as pitch, roll, heading, acceleration and speed information.

The F-15's electronic warfare system provides both threat warning and automatic countermeasures against selected threats. The "identification friend or foe" system informs the pilot if an aircraft seen visually or on radar is friendly. It also informs U.S. or allied ground stations and other suitably equipped aircraft that the F-15 is a friendly aircraft.

A variety of air-to-air weaponry can be carried by the F-15. An automated weapon system enables the pilot to perform aerial combat safely and effectively, using the head-up display and the avionics and weapons controls located on the engine throttles or control stick. When the pilot changes from one weapon system to another, visual guidance for the required weapon automatically appears on the head-up display.

The Eagle can be armed with combinations of four different air-to-air weapons: AIM-7F/M Sparrow missiles or AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles on its lower fuselage corners, AIM-9L/M Sidewinder or AIM-120 missiles on two pylons under the wings, and an internal 20mm Gatling gun (with 940 rounds of ammunition) in the right wing root.

Low-drag, conformal fuel tanks were especially developed for the F-15C and D models. Conformal fuel tanks can be attached to the sides of the engine air intake trunks under each wing and are designed to the same load factors and airspeed limits as the basic aircraft. Each conformal fuel tank contains about 114 cubic feet of usable space. These tanks reduce the need for in-flight refuelling on global missions and increase time in the combat area. All external stations for munitions remain available with the tanks in use. AIM-7F/M Sparrow and AIM-120 missiles, moreover, can be attached to the corners of the conformal fuel tanks.

Background

The first F-15A flight was made in July 1972, and the first flight of the two-seat F-15B (formerly TF-15A) trainer was made in July 1973. The first Eagle (F-15B) was delivered in November 1974 to the 58th Tactical Training Wing, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., where pilot training was accomplished in both F-15A and B aircraft. In January 1976, the first Eagle destined for a combat squadron was delivered to the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base, Va.

Other units equipped with F-15s include the 36th Fighter Wing, Bitburg Air Base, Germany; 325th Fighter Wing at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.; 33d Fighter Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; 32d Fighter Squadron, Soesterberg AB, Netherlands; and the 3d Fighter Wing, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. In January 1982, the 48th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Langley Air Force Base became the first Air Force air defence squadron to transition to the F-15.

The single-seat F-15C and two-seat F-15D models entered the Air Force inventory beginning in 1979. Kadena Air Base, Japan, received the first F-15C in September 1979. These new models have Production Eagle Package (PEP 2000) improvements, including 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms) of additional internal fuel, provision for carrying exterior conformal fuel tanks and increased maximum takeoff weight of up to 68,000 pounds (30,600 kilograms).

Some members of the military, most infamously the 'Fighter Mafia', a group of strategists that formed in response to early losses in the air-battles of Vietnam, felt that the F-15 was merely an updated version of the F-4 Phantom II, a plane that suffered losses dogfighting in Vietnam. Criticisms of the F-15's close combat manoeuvrability, large size and cost led to the development of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, an airplane that complements the F-15 by having strengths in those areas listed.

General Characteristics
Primary Function: Tactical fighter.
Contractor: McDonnell Douglas Corp.
Power Plant: Two Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-100 turbofan engines with afterburners.
Thrust: (C/D models) 25,000 pounds each engine ( 11,250 kilograms).
Length: 63 feet, 9 inches (19.43 meters).
Height: 18 feet, 8 inches (5.69 meters).
Wingspan: 42 feet, 10 inches (13.06 meters)
Speed: 1,875 mph (Mach 2.5-plus at sea level).
Ceiling: 65,000 feet (19,697 meters).
Maximum Takeoff Weight: (C/D models) 68,000 pounds (30,600 kilograms).
Range: 3,450 miles (3,000 nautical miles) ferry range with conformal fuel tanks and three external fuel tanks.
Armament: One M-61A1 20mm multibarrel gun mounted internally with 940 rounds of ammunition; four AIM-9L/M Sidewinder and four AIM-7F/M Sparrow missiles, or a combination of AIM-9L/M, AIM-7-F/M and AIM-120 missiles.
Crew: F-15A/C: one. F-15B/D: two.
Unit cost: $15 million.
Date Deployed: July 1972
Inventory: Active force, 403; ANG, 126; Reserve, 0.

F-15E Strike Eagle

History

In March of 1981, the USAF announced the Enhanced Tactical Fighter program to procure a replacement for the F-111. The concept envisioned an aircraft capable of launching deep interdiction missions without requiring additional support in the form of fighter escort or jamming support. General Dynamics submitted the F-16XL, while McDonnell Douglas submitted a variant of the F-15. The F-15E's first flight was on December 11, 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 in October 1989 at Seymour Johnson AFB in North Carolina with the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing. Variants of the F-15E are also operated by Israel (F-15I), Korea (F-15K), Saudi Arabia (F-15S) and Singapore (F-15SG)

The F-15E played an integral role in Operation Desert Storm, completing thousands of sorties. Three F-15E's have been lost in combat over Iraq (2 in Desert Storm and 1 in Iraqi Freedom). One F-15E achieved an aerial kill of an Iraqi helicopter using a laser-guided bomb during Desert Storm. Another F-15E crashed in Lybya on March 21th ,2011 during the military intervention in Libya, after after suffering "mechanical failures".

While the F-15C/D is being replaced by the F-22 Raptor, there is no slated replacement for the F-15E. As the Strike Eagles are more recent than the F-15 and rated for twice the lifetime, they will remain in service well into the middle of the 2020's, perhaps longer. The Air Force is currently investigating a "regional bomber" concept, and among the possibilities are a bomber derivative of the F-22 Raptor, essentially carrying on the Strike Eagle legacy.

Design

The deep strike mission of the F-15E is a radical departure from that of the F-15, designed as an air superiority fighter under the mantra "not a pound for air-to-ground". However, the basic airframe proved versatile enough to produce a very capable strike fighter. While designed for ground attack, it retains much of the air-to-air lethality of the F-15, and can defend itself against enemy aircraft.

The F-15E prototype was a modification of the two-seat F-15B. Despite its origins, the F-15E includes significant structural changes and much more powerful engines. The back seat is equipped for a Weapon Systems Officer (WSO pronounced Wizzo), or known to some as the "guy in back" (GIB), to work the new air-to-ground avionics. On four screens, the WSO can display information from the radar, electronic warfare or infrared sensors, monitor aircraft or weapons status and possible threats, select targets, and use an electronic "moving map" to navigate. Two hand controls are used to select new displays and to refine targeting information. Displays can be moved from one screen to another, chosen from a "menu" of display options. Unlike earlier two-place jets (like the F-14 Tomcat and Navy's F-4 Phantom II), whose "backseater" lacked flying controls, the WSO of the F-15E cockpit is equipped with its own stick and throttle, and the F-15E WSO can take over flying if necessary.

To extend its range, the F-15E is fitted with two conformal fuel tanks (CFT's) that hug the fuselage, producing lower drag than conventional, underwing fuel tanks. They carry 750 U.S. gallons (2,800 L) of fuel, and house six weapons hardpoints in two rows of three in tandem. However, unlike conventional fuel tanks, CFT's cannot be jettisoned, so increased range comes at the cost of degraded performance with respect to the F-15 as a result of the additional drag and weight. Similar tanks can be mounted on F-15C's, but the range/performance tradeoff is typically not worth it for an air superiority fighter.

The Strike Eagle's tactical electronic warfare system (TEWS) integrates all countermeasures on the craft: radar warning receivers (RWR), radar jammer, radar, and chaff/flare dispensers are all tied to the TEWS to provide comprehensive defense against detection and tracking.

An inertial navigation system uses a laser gyroscope to continuously monitor the aircraft's position and provide information to the central computer and other systems, including a digital moving map in both cockpits.

The APG-70 radar system allows air crews to detect ground targets from longer ranges. One feature of this system is that after a sweep of a target area, the crew freezes the air-to-ground map then goes back into air-to-air mode to clear for air threats. During the air-to-surface weapon delivery, the pilot is capable of detecting, targeting and engaging air-to-air targets while the WSO designates the ground target.

The low-altitude navigation and targeting infrared for night (LANTIRN) system allows the aircraft to fly at low altitudes, at night and in any weather conditions, to attack ground targets with a variety of precision-guided and unguided weapons. The LANTIRN system gives the F-15E unequaled accuracy in weapons delivery day or night and in poor weather, and consists of two pods attached to the exterior of the aircraft. At night, the video picture from the LANTIRN can be projected on the HUD, producing an image identical to what he would see during daytime.

The navigation pod contains terrain-following radar which allows the pilot to safely fly at a very low altitude following cues displayed on a heads up display. This system also can be coupled to the aircraft's autopilot to provide "hands off" terrain-following capability.

The targeting pod contains a laser designator and a tracking system that mark an enemy for destruction as far away as 10 mi (16 km). Once tracking has been started, targeting information is automatically handed off to infrared air-to-surface missiles or laser-guided bombs.

For air-to-ground missions, the F-15E can carry most weapons in the U.S. Air Force inventory. It also can be armed with AIM-9 Sidewinders, AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM-120 AMRAAMs for the air-to-air role. Like the F-15, the Strike Eagle also carries an internally mounted General Electric M61A 20 mm cannon.

Specifications (F-15E Strike Eagle)

General characteristics Performance Armament

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