Tag Archives: McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle

14 February 1991

McDonnell Douglas F-15E-47-MC Strike Eagle 89-0487 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka Engblom, U.S.Air Force.)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-47-MC Strike Eagle 89-0487 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka Engblom, U.S.Air Force.)

14 February 1991: An unusual incident occurred during Desert Storm, when Captains Tim Bennett and Dan Bakke, United States Air Force, flying the airplane in the above photograph, McDonnell Douglas F-15E-47-MC Strike Eagle, 89-0487, used a 2,000-pound (907.2 kilogram) GBU-10 Paveway II laser-guided bomb to “shoot down” an Iraqi Mil Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter. This airplane is still in service with the Air Force, and on 16 August 2016 logged its 12,000th flight hour.

Captain Bennett (Pilot) and Captain Bakke (Weapons Systems Officer) were leading a two-ship flight on a anti-Scud missile patrol, waiting for a target to be assigned by their Boeing E-3 AWACS controller. 89-0487 was armed with four laser-guided GBU-10 bombs and four AIM-9 Sidewinder heat-seeking air-to-air missiles. Their wingman was carrying twelve Mk. 82 500-pound (227 kilogram) bombs.

The AWACS controller called Bennett’s flight and told them that a Special Forces team on the ground searching for Scud launching sites had been located by Iraqi forces and was in need of help. They headed in from 50 miles (80.5 kilometers) away, descending though 12,000 feet (3,658 meters) of clouds as the went. They came out of the clouds at 2,500 feet (762 meters), 15–20 miles (24– 32 kilometers) from the Special Forces team.

With the Strike Eagle’s infrared targeting pod, they picked up five helicopters and identified them as enemy Mi-24s. It appeared that the helicopters were trying to drive the U.S. soldiers into a waiting Iraqi blocking force.

Iraqi Army Aviation Mil Mi-24 Hind (helis.com)
Iraqi Army Aviation Mil Mi-24 Hind (helis.com)

Their Strike Eagle was inbound at 600 knots (1,111 kilometers per hour) and both the FLIR (infrared) targeting pod and search radar were locked on to the Iraqi helicopters. Dan Bakke aimed the laser targeting designator at the lead helicopter preparing to drop a GBU-10 while Tim Bennett was getting a Sidewinder missile ready to fire. At four miles (6.44 kilometers) they released the GBU-10.

Mission count for the 10,000+ flight hours of F-15E 89-0487. The green star indicates the Iraqi Mi-24 helicopter destroyed 14 February 1991. (U.S. Air Force)

At this time, the enemy helicopter, which had been either on the ground or in a hover, began to accelerate and climb. The Eagle’s radar showed the helicopter’s ground speed at 100 knots. Bakke struggled to keep the laser designator on the fast-moving target. Bennett was about to fire the Sidewinder at the helicopter when the 2,000-pound (907.2 kilogram) bomb hit and detonated. The helicopter ceased to exist. The other four helicopters scattered.

Soon after, additional fighter bombers arrived to defend the U.S. Special Forces team. They were later extracted and were able to confirm the Strike Eagle’s kill.

A Royal Australian Air Force fighter pilot checks a GBU-10 Paveway II 2,000-pound laser-guided bomb on an F-18 Hornet. This is the same type of bomb used by Captains and Bakke to destroy an Iraqi Mil Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter.(RAAF)
A Royal Australian Air Force fighter pilot checks a GBU-10 Paveway II 2,000-pound (907.2 kilogram) laser-guided bomb on an F-18 Hornet. This is the same type of bomb used by Captains Bennett and Bakke to destroy an Iraqi Mil Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter. (RAAF)

The Strike Eagle was begun as a private venture by McDonnell Douglas. Designed to be operated by a pilot and a weapons system officer (WSO), the airplane can carry bombs, missiles and guns for a ground attack role, while maintaining its capability as an air superiority fighter. It’s airframe was a strengthened and its service life doubled to 16,000 flight hours. The Strike Eagle became an Air Force project in March 1981, and went into production as the F-15E. The first production model, 86-0183, made its first flight 11 December 1986.

The prototype McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle (modified from F-15B-4-MC 71-0291) is parked on the ramp at the McDonnell Douglas facility at St. Louis. (U.S. Air Force)

The McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle is a two-place twin-engine multi-role fighter. It is 63 feet, 9 inches (19.431 meters) long with a wingspan of 42 feet, 9¾ inches (13.049 meters) and height of 18 feet, 5½ inches (5.626 meters). It weighs 31,700 pounds (14,379 kilograms) empty and has a maximum takeoff weight of 81,000 pounds (36,741 kilograms).

The F-15E is powered by two Pratt and Whitney F100-PW-229 turbofan engines which produce 17,800 pounds of thrust (79.178 kilonewtons) each, or 29,100 pounds (129.443 kilonewtons) with afterburner.

The Strike Eagle has a maximum speed of Mach 2.54 (1,676 miles per hour, (2,697 kilometers per hour) at 40,000 feet (12,192 meters) and is capable of sustained speed at Mach 2.3 (1,520 miles per hour, 2,446 kilometers per hour). Its service ceiling is 60,000 feet (18,288 meters). The fighter-bomber has a combat radius of 790 miles (1,271 kilometers) and a maximum ferry range of 2,765 miles (4,450 kilometers).

Though optimized as a fighter-bomber, the F-15E Strike Eagle retains an air-to-air combat capability. The F-15E is armed with one 20mm M61A1 Vulcan 6-barrel rotary cannon with 512 rounds of ammunition, and can carry four AIM-9M Sidewinder heat-seeking missiles and four AIM-7M Sparrow radar-guided missiles, or a combination of Sidewinders, Sparrows and AIM-120 AMRAAM long range missiles. It can carry a maximum load of 24,500 pounds (11,113 kilograms) of bombs and missiles for ground attack.

A McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle over Iraq during Operation Northern Watch, 1999. (U.S. Air Force)
A McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle over Iraq during Operation Northern Watch, 1999. (U.S. Air Force)

The Mil Mi-24 (NATO reporting name “Hind”) is a large, heavily-armed attack helicopter that can also carry up to eight troops. It is flown by a pilot and a gunner.

It is 57 feet, 4 inches (17.475 meters) long and the five-bladed main rotor has a diameter of 56 feet, 7 inches (17.247 meters). The helicopter has an overall height of 21 feet, 3 inches (6.477 meters). The empty weight is 18,740 pounds (8,378 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight is 26,500 pounds (12,020 kilograms).

The helicopter is powered by two Isotov TV3-117 turboshaft engines which produce 2,200 horsepower, each. The Mil-24 has a maximum speed of 208 miles per hour (335 kilometers per hour) and a range of 280 miles (451 kilometers). Its service ceiling is 14,750 feet (4,496 meters).

The helicopter is armed with a 12.7 mm Yakushev-Borzov Yak-B four-barreled Gatling gun with 1,470 rounds of ammunition; a twin-barrel GSh-30K 30 mm autocannon with 750 rounds; a twin-barrel GSh-23L 23 mm autocannon with 450 rounds. The Mi-24 can also carry a wide range of bombs, rockets and missiles.

The Mil Mi-24 first flew in 1969 and is still in production. More than 2,300 have been built and they have served the militaries of forty countries.

A Russian-built Mil Mi-24P Hind-F at the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Center, Threat Support Activity, NAS Fallon, Nevada. (U.S. Army)
A Russian-built Mil Mi-24P Hind-F at the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Center, Threat Support Activity, NAS Fallon, Nevada. (United States Air Force)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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10 February 1994

First Lieutenant Jean Marie Flynn, USAF, call sign "Tally", with her McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle. (U.S. Air Force)
First Lieutenant Jean Marie Flynn, United States Air Force, call sign “Tally,” with a McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle, Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. (U.S. Air Force)

10 February 1994: First Lieutenant Jean Marie (“Jeannie”) Flynn, United States Air Force, the first woman selected by the Air Force for training as a combat pilot, completed six months of training on the McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle with the 555th Fighter Wing (“Triple Nickel”) at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Her call sign is “Tally.”

The following is her official U.S. Air Force biography:

Brigadier General Jeannie M. Leavitt, United States Air Force.

BRIGADIER GENERAL JEANNIE M. LEAVITT, UNITED STATES AIR FORCE

Brigadier General Jeannie M. Leavitt is the 57th Wing Commander, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. She is responsible for 34 squadrons at 13 installations constituting the Air Force’s most diverse flying wing. The wing flies and maintains more than 130 aircraft of the following types: A-10, F-15C/D, F-15E, F-16C/CG/CJ, F-22A, F-35A and HH-60G. The wing also utilizes E-3, RC-135, E-8, B-1, B-2, B-52, C-130, KC-135, C-17, AC-130U and MC-130P aircraft and MQ-1/9 remotely piloted aircraft at 13 stateside bases to support the U.S. Air Force Weapons School syllabus. General Leavitt is responsible for four groups: 57th Adversary Tactics Group, 57th Operations Group, 57th Maintenance Group and the U.S. Air Force Weapons School. In addition, she oversees the 561st Joint Tactics Squadron; U.S. Air Force Advanced Maintenance and Munitions Operations School; U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds; and the RED FLAG and GREEN FLAG exercises.

Brigadier General Jeannie M. Leavitt is the 57th Wing Commander, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. She is responsible for 34 squadrons at 13 installations constituting the Air Force’s most diverse flying wing. The wing flies and maintains more than 130 aircraft of the following types: A-10, F-15C/D, F-15E, F-16C/CG/CJ, F-22A, F-35A and HH-60G. The wing also utilizes E-3, RC-135, E-8, B-1, B-2, B-52, C-130, KC-135, C-17, AC-130U and MC-130P aircraft and MQ-1/9 remotely piloted aircraft at 13 stateside bases to support the U.S. Air Force Weapons School syllabus. General Leavitt is responsible for four groups: 57th Adversary Tactics Group, 57th Operations Group, 57th Maintenance Group and the U.S. Air Force Weapons School. In addition, she oversees the 561st Joint Tactics Squadron; U.S. Air Force Advanced Maintenance and Munitions Operations School; U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds; and the RED FLAG and GREEN FLAG exercises.

Second Lieutenant Jean Marie Flynn, U.S. Air Force, with a Northrop T-38A Talon, at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, 1992. (U.S. Air Force)

General Leavitt entered the Air Force in 1992 after earning her bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas and her master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University. She earned her commission as a distinguished graduate of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program. General Leavitt has served in a variety of flying, staff and command assignments and has commanded at the flight, squadron and wing level. She is a graduate and former instructor of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School and is a command pilot with more than 3,000 hours. Her operational experiences include Operations SOUTHERN WATCH, NORTHERN WATCH, IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM. Prior to her current assignment she served as the Principal Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Washington D.C.

ASSIGNMENTS:

1. January 1992 – March 1993, student, Undergraduate Pilot Training, Laughlin AFB, Texas

2. March 1993 – July 1993, T-38 instructor pilot upgrade trainee, Vance AFB, Oklahoma

1st Lieutenant Jean Marie Flynn, USAF, listens to Lieutenant Colonel John R. Sheekley, 555th Fighter Squadron, during pre-flight inspection of a McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle. (U.S. Air Force)

3. July 1993 – April 1994, student, F-15E Formal Training Course, 555th Fighter Squadron, Luke AFB, Arizona

First Lieutenant Jeannie Flynn (Staff Sergeant Brad Fallen USAF/National Archives)
Captain Jeannie Flynn, U.S. Air Force, 336th Fighter Squadron, 1997. (The Alcalde)

4. April 1994 – January 1998, instructor pilot, training officer, later Assistant Chief of Weapons, then Assistant Chief of Standardization and Evaluation, 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina

5. January 1998 – July 1998, student, USAF Weapons Instructor Course, F-15E Division, Nellis AFB, Nevada

6. July 1998 – June 2001, F-15E instructor pilot, Assistant Chief then Chief of Weapons and Tactics, later, Flight Commander then Assistant Operations Officer, 391st Fighter Squadron, Mountain Home AFB, Idaho

7. June 2001 – August 2003, F-15E instructor pilot, Wing Standardization and Evaluation Examiner, 57th Operations Group, later Academics Flight Commander then Assistant Operations Officer for Academics, 17th Weapons Squadron, USAF Weapons School, Nellis AFB, Nevada

8. August 2003 – July 2004, student, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Alabama

9. July 2004 – September 2005, Chief of Special Technical Operations, United States Forces Korea, Yongsan Army Garrison, Seoul, South Korea

10. September 2005 – April 2007, Chief of Master Air Attack Plans, 609th Combat Plans Squadron, 9th Air Force and United States Central Command Air Forces, Shaw AFB, South Carolina

11. April 2007 – July 2009, Assistant Director of Operations, 334th Fighter Squadron, later Commander, 333d Fighter Squadron, then Special Assistant to the 4th Operations Group Commander, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina

12. July 2009 – June 2010, student, National War College, National Defense University, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C.

13. July 2010 – May 2012, CSAF Fellow, Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C.

Colonel Jeannie M. Leavitt, United States Air Force, Wing Commander, 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force)

14. June 2012 – June 2014, Commander, 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina

15. June 2014 – April 2016, Principal Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Pentagon, Washington D.C.

16. April 2016 – June 2018, Commander, 57th Wing, Nellis AFB, Nevada

17. June 2018 – present, Commander, Air Force Recruiting Service, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas

SUMMARY OF JOINT ASSIGNMENTS

1. July 2004 – September 2005, Chief of Special Technical Operations, United States Forces Korea, Yongsan Army Garrison, Seoul, South Korea, as a major

2. July 2010 – May 2012, CSAF Fellow, Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C., as a colonel

3. June 2014 – April 2016, Principal Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Pentagon, Washington D.C., as a colonel

FLIGHT INFORMATION:

Rating: Command pilot

Flight hours: More than 3,000, including over 300 combat hours

Aircraft flown: F-15E, T-38A, AT-38B, T-37

 MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS:

Defense Superior Service Medal

Legion of Merit

Bronze Star Medal

Defense Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters

Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters

Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters

Aerial Achievement Medal

Joint Service Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster

Air Force Commendation Medal

Air Force Achievement Medal

OTHER ACHIEVEMENTS:

1997 Outstanding Young Texas Exes, University of Texas at Austin

2009 Katherine and Marjorie Stinson Award, National Aeronautic Association

EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION:

Second Lieutenant July 1, 1991

First Lieutenant July 1, 1993

Captain July 1, 1995

Major May 1, 2002

Lieutenant Colonel March 1, 2006

Colonel October 1, 2009

Brigadier General July 3, 2016

 (Current as of July 2018)

Brigadier General Jeannie Leavitt, 57th Wing commander, at Nellis AFB, 15 July 2016. (United States Air Force 160715-F-YM181-001)
A McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle over Iraq during Operation Northern Watch, 1999. (U.S. Air Force)
A McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle over Iraq during Operation Northern Watch, 1999. (U.S. Air Force)

The Strike Eagle was begun as a private venture by McDonnell Douglas. Designed to be operated by a pilot and a weapons system officer (WSO), the airplane can carry bombs, missiles and guns for a ground attack role, while maintaining its capability as an air superiority fighter. It’s airframe was a strengthened and its service life doubled to 16,000 flight hours. The Strike Eagle became an Air Force project in March 1981, and  went into production as the F-15E. The first production model, 86-0183, made its first flight 11 December 1986.

The McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle is a two-place twin-engine multi-role fighter. It is 63 feet, 9 inches (19.431 meters) long with a wingspan of 42 feet, 9¾ inches (13.049 meters) and height of 18 feet, 5½ inches (5.626 meters). It weighs 31,700 pounds (14,379 kilograms) empty and has a maximum takeoff weight of 81,000 pounds (36,741 kilograms).

McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle 89-0502 over Afghanistan, 26 November 2006. (Ron Downey, Aviation Archives)

The F-15E is powered by two Pratt and Whitney F100-PW-229 turbofan engines which produce 17,800 pounds of thrust (79.178 kilonewtons) each, or 29,100 pounds (129.443 kilonewtons) with afterburner.

The Strike Eagle has a maximum speed of Mach 2.54 (1,676 miles per hour, (2,697 kilometers per hour) at 40,000 feet (12,192 meters) and is capable of sustained speed at Mach 2.3 (1,520 miles per hour, 2,446 kilometers per hour). Its service ceiling is 60,000 feet (18,288 meters). The fighter-bomber has a combat radius of 790 miles (1,271 kilometers) and a maximum ferry range of 2,765 miles (4,450 kilometers).

Though optimized as a fighter-bomber, the F-15E Strike Eagle retains an air-to-air combat capability. The F-15E is armed with one 20mm M61A1 Vulcan 6-barrel rotary cannon with 512 rounds of ammunition, and can carry four AIM-9M Sidewinder heat-seeking missiles and four AIM-7M Sparrow radar-guided missiles, or a combination of Sidewinders, Sparrows and AIM-120 AMRAAM long range missiles. It can carry a maximum load of 24,500 pounds (11,113 kilograms) of bombs and missiles for ground attack.

Colonel Jeannie M. Leavitt climbs into the cockpit of her McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle at Seymour Johnson AFB. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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13 January 2012

F-15E-47-MC Strike Eagle 89-0487 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, 13 January 2012. (Photograph by Airman 1st Class Ericka Engblom, USAF)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-47-MC Strike Eagle 89-0487, assigned to the 335th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, taxis into its revetment at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, 13 January 2012. Note the World War II Eagle Squadron insignia and the green star kill mark painted on the fighter bomber’s nose. (Photograph by Airman 1st Class Ericka Engblom, USAF)

13 January 2012: This McDonnell Douglas F-15E-47-MC Strike Eagle, 89-0487, became the first F-15 to have logged over 10,000 flight hours. Regularly assigned to Captain Justin Pavoni, Pilot, and Lieutenant Colonel David Moeller, Weapons System Officer and commander of the 335th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, on the mission which achieved the milestone, 487 was flown by Captain Ryan Bodenheimer, pilot, and Captain Erin Short, WSO, the two youngest flyers in the squadron.

89-0487 was accepted by the Air Force on 13 November 1990. At the time of this event, 487 was considered to be the flag ship of the 335th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron. During a three month period at Bagram Air Base, this individual F-15E flew 1,200 hours and dropped 15% of all the bombs dropped by the squadron.

During Operation Desert Storm, Captains Tim Bennett and Dan Bakke, USAF, flying this F-15E, call sign “Packard 41,” used a GBU-10 Paveway II 2,000-pound laser-guided bomb to “shoot down” an Iraqi Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter. 487 is the only F-15E to have scored an air-to-air victory.

This airplane is still in service with the United States Air Force. It passed 12,000 flight hours on 16 August 2016. It has been deployed for combat operations 17 times.

McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle 89-0487 lands at Bagram Air Base after passing its 10,000th flight hour, 13 January 2012. (Airman 1st Class Ericka Engblom, U.S. Air Force)
With Captains Bodenheimer and Short in the cockpit, McDonnell Douglas F-15E-47-MC Strike Eagle 89-0487 lands at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, after passing its 10,000th flight hour, 13 January 2012. (Airman 1st Class Ericka Engblom, U.S. Air Force)

The Strike Eagle was begun as a private venture by McDonnell Douglas. Designed to be operated by a pilot and a weapons system officer (WSO), the airplane can carry bombs, missiles and guns for a ground attack role, while maintaining its capability as an air superiority fighter. It’s airframe was a strengthened and its service life doubled to 16,000 flight hours. The Strike Eagle became an Air Force project in March 1981, and  went into production as the F-15E. The first production model, 86-0183, made its first flight 11 December 1986.

The McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle is a two-place twin-engine multi-role fighter. It is 63 feet, 9 inches (19.431 meters) long with a wingspan of 42 feet, 9¾ inches (13.049 meters) and height of 18 feet, 5½ inches (5.626 meters). It weighs 31,700 pounds (14,379 kilograms) empty and has a maximum takeoff weight of 81,000 pounds (36,741 kilograms). The F-15E is powered by two Pratt and Whitney F100-PW-229 turbofan engines which produce 17,800 pounds of thrust (79.178 kilonewtons) each, or 29,100 pounds (129.443 kilonewtons) with afterburner.

Captain Ryan Bodenheimer climbs down from the cockpit of F-15E Strike Eagle 89-0487 after completing the mission in which the aircraft passed the 10,000 flight hour mark. (U.S. Air Force)

The Strike Eagle has a maximum speed of Mach 2.54 (1,676 miles per hour, (2,697 kilometers per hour) at 40,000 feet (12,192 meters) and is capable of sustained speed at Mach 2.3 (1,520 miles per hour, 2,446 kilometers per hour). Its service ceiling is 60,000 feet (18,288 meters). The fighter-bomber has a combat radius of 790 miles (1,271 kilometers) and a maximum ferry range of 2,765 miles (4,450 kilometers).

Though optimized as a fighter-bomber, the F-15E Strike Eagle retains an air-to-air combat capability. The F-15E is armed with one 20mm M61A1 Vulcan 6-barrel rotary cannon with 512 rounds of ammunition, and can carry four AIM-9M Sidewinder heat-seeking missiles and four AIM-7M Sparrow radar-guided missiles, or a combination of Sidewinders, Sparrows and AIM-120 AMRAAM long range missiles. It can carry a maximum load of 24,500 pounds (11,113 kilograms) of bombs and missiles for ground attack.

This McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle is carrying AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, 2,000-pound laser guided bombs, targeting designators and jettisonable fuel tanks. (U.S. Air Force)
This McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle is carrying AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, 2,000-pound laser guided bombs, targeting designators and jettisonable fuel tanks. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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8 July 1980

The prototype Strike Eagle, a modified F-15B-4-MC, 71-0291, banks away to show a full load of bombs and its conformal fuel tanks. (U.S. Air Force)

8 July 1980: The prototype McDonnell Douglas F-15 Strike Eagle, a fighter-bomber variant converted from the second two-seat F-15B Eagle trainer, F-15B-4-MC 71-0291, made its first flight. Originally designated TF-15A, -0291 first flew nearly seven years earlier, 18 October 1973.

The Strike Eagle was begun as a private venture by McDonnell Douglas. Designed to be operated by a pilot and a weapons system officer (WSO), the airplane can carry bombs, missiles and guns for a ground attack role, while maintaining its capability as an air superiority fighter. It’s airframe was a strengthened and its service life doubled to 16,000 flight hours. The Strike Eagle became an Air Force project in March 1981, and  went into production as the F-15E. The first production model, 86-0183, made its first flight 11 December 1986.

The McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle is a two-place twin-engine multi-role fighter. It is 63 feet, 9 inches (19.431 meters) long with a wingspan of 42 feet, 9¾ inches (13.049 meters) and height of 18 feet, 5½ inches (5.626 meters). It weighs 31,700 pounds (14,379 kilograms) empty and has a maximum takeoff weight of 81,000 pounds (36,741 kilograms). The F-15E is powered by two Pratt and Whitney F100-PW-229 turbofan engines which produce 17,800 pounds of thrust (79.178 kilonewtons) each, or 29,100 pounds (129.443 kilonewtons) with afterburner.

This McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle is carrying AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM 9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, 2,000-pound laser guided bombs, targeting designators and jettisonable fuel tanks. (U.S. Air Force)
This McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle is carrying AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM 9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, 2,000-pound laser-guided bombs, targeting designators and jettisonable fuel tanks. (U.S. Air Force)

The Strike Eagle has a maximum speed of Mach 2.54 (1,676 miles per hour, (2,697 kilometers per hour) at 40,000 feet (12,192 meters) and is capable of sustained speed at Mach 2.3 (1,520 miles per hour, 2,446 kilometers per hour). Its service ceiling is 60,000 feet (18,288 meters). The fighter-bomber has a combat radius of 790 miles (1,271 kilometers) and a maximum ferry range of 2,765 miles (4,450 kilometers).

Though optimized as a fighter-bomber, the F-15E Strike Eagle retains an air-to-air combat capability. The F-15E is armed with one 20mm M61A1 Vulcan 6-barrel rotary cannon with 512 rounds of ammunition, and can carry four AIM-9M Sidewinder heat-seeking missiles and four AIM-7M Sparrow radar-guided missiles, or a combination of Sidewinders, Sparrows and AIM-120 AMRAAM long range missiles. It can carry a maximum load of 24,500 pounds (11,113 kilograms) of bombs and missiles for ground attack.

71-0291 remained at McDonnell Douglas as a dedicated test aircraft. During that time it was painted in many different camouflage schemes. In these photographs, it is painted in the “European 1” camouflage.

71-0291 was retired from the active inventory in the early 1990s and was used for battle damage repair training at Warner Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. It is reported to be on display at the Royal Saudi Air Force Museum at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in RSAF colors and markings.

The prototype McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle (modified from F-15B-4-MC 71-0291) is parked on the ramp at the McDonnell Douglas facility at St. Louis. (U.S. Air Force)
The prototype McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle (modified from F-15B-4-MC 71-0291) is parked on the ramp at the McDonnell Douglas facility at St. Louis. This camouflage scheme is called European 1. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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