Strike Eagle. Mud Hen. Dark Gray. SLAM Eagle. The names vary, but the beauty and whoopass remain the same. The Boeing F-15E, originally designed by McDonnell Douglas, is an absolutely incredible blend of an airframe created to own the sky yet transformed into an in-your-face, low-level, death-dealing monster.
Initially there was no interest in an F-15-derived air interdiction platform, but McDonnell Douglas quietly continued putting a plan together. In 1978 the USAF initiated a Tactical All-Weather Requirement Study (TAWRS), which put McDonnell Douglas’ plan in competition with the General Dynamics F-111. Ultimately the Air Force went with the McDonnell Douglas design in lieu of purchasing more F-111F’s, and the Strike Eagle was born.
Between 1979 and 1981, while working alongside Hughes on the design and capabilities of the aircraft, the USAF announced the Enhanced Tactical Fighter (ETF) program which would officially replace the F-111 and put the F-15E back in competition again.
This time the competitor would be a variant of the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon (Yes, I said it). This Viper, designated the XL, would also be significantly different from it’s original design. We aren’t talking about that glorious aircraft just yet, though. Long story short, the winner of the ETF program was the F-15E.
I won’t spend any more time boring you with text when the awesomeness overfloweth below. Take a look at some of our favorite images of the jet an F-22A Raptor pilot called “the most capable aircraft in the USAF inventory.”