The F-15E Strike Eagle can now carry enough JDAMs for an active combat mission, land at a remote location, and reload itself and/or another aircraft – such as an F-35 or F-22 – for additional combat sorties.
Taken on Feb. 22, 2021 at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), the interesting photo in this post shows an F-15E Strike Eagle belonging to the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES) carrying six JDAMs on a single side of the aircraft. As explained by 1st Lt. Savanah Bray, 53rd Wing, in the article Strike Eagle proven capable of carrying 15 JDAMs on single sortie, thanks to this configuration the test showcased a proof of concept for Agile Combat Employment, known as “ACE.”
“Currently the F-15E is authorized to carry a max of nine JDAMs, but the success of this test expands that to 15 JDAMs,” said Maj. Andrew Swanson, F-15E Weapons System Officer (WSO), 85th TES.
Lt. Col. Jacob Lindaman, commander, 85th TES added that “Strike Eagle can now carry enough JDAMs for an active combat mission, land at a remote location, and reload itself and/or another aircraft – such as an F-35 or F-22 – for additional combat sorties.”
Even though not all the JDAMs carried can be employed in a single mission, this proves the F-15E’s ability to ferry JDAMs while simultaneously releasing them on an active combat mission – a key component to the ACE model. Previously, two C-130s were required to carry the necessary munitions and personnel to reload in a remote location. Once at the location, the JDAMs had to be assembled, taking extra time. Now the requirement has been reduced to just one C-130 and the onsite bomb building has been eliminated thanks to the additional carriage on the F-15E that allows fully assembled JDAMs to be transported.
According to the US Air Force website, The F-15E Strike Eagle is a dual-role fighter designed to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. An array of avionics and electronics systems gives the F-15E the capability to fight at low altitude, day or night and in all weather.
Each of the low-drag conformal fuel tanks that hug the F-15E’s fuselage can carry 750 gallons of fuel. The tanks hold weapons on short pylons rather than conventional weapon racks, reducing drag and further extending the range of the Strike Eagle.
For air-to-ground missions, the F-15E can carry most weapons in the Air Force inventory. It also can be armed with AIM-9M Sidewinders or AIM-120 advanced medium range air-to-air missiles, or AMRAAM for the air-to-air role. The “E” model also has an internally mounted 20mm gun that can carry up to 500 rounds.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force