The Eagle is a two-seat tactical fighter, powered by two turbofan engines. It is supersonic, flying at a rate of 1,875 miles per hour (Mach 2.5) at an altitude of 65,000 feet. It is more than 63 feet long with a wingspan of nearly 43 feet.
Two design factors enable the F-15 to accelerate more rapidly and nimbly than other aircraft. In addition to a high thrust-to-weight ratio, it has low wing loading, which enables it to make tight turns without slowing down. The F-15 can be armed with a variety of air-to-air weapons, and it can be refueled mid-flight.
The Air Force fact sheet on the F-15 says its avionics system “includes a head-up display, advanced radar, inertial navigation system, flight instruments, ultra-high frequency 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.” The Air Force has more than 500 of the combat aircraft.
The first F-15 flight, involving the original model single-seater, took place in July 1972.
The most recent model, the F-15E, is called the Strike Eagle and sometimes the Beagle. It can perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. It can fly low, which enables the weapons officer to address ground targets while also identifying and striking at air threats.
The F-15E made its combat debut over Iraq in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, tracking down SCUD missile launchers and artillery sites in nighttime sweeps. The aircraft also have been deployed to monitor the no-fly zone in southern Iraq and have been used in Bosnia, Afghanistan and the current conflict in Iraq.