The F-15E Strike Eagle is a dual-role fighter designed for long range interdiction of enemy ground targets deep behind enemy lines. An array of avionics and electronics systems gives the aircraft the capability to fly at low altitude, day or night, and in any weather condition. Derived from the F-15 Eagle, the Strike Eagle has proved its worth in various operations, carrying out deep strikes against high value targets and providing close air support for coalition troops. The F-15E can be distinguished from the F-15 by its darker camouflage and the conformal fuel tanks attached to the fuselage.
In March 1981, the United States Air Force (USAF) announced the Enhanced Tactical Fighter program to procure a replacement for the F-111 Aardvark. General Dynamics and McDonnell Douglas submitted proposals, and in February 1984, the contract was awarded to McDonnell Douglas. The F-15E had its maiden flight on December 11, 1986. While designed for ground attack, the versatile Strike Eagle retains much of the air-to-air lethality of the F-15 and can defend itself against enemy aircraft.
The F-15E saw combat during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm after Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990. On February 14, 1991, an F-15E scored an air-to-air kill, a Mil Mi-24 Hind helicopter. The attack was in response to a request for help by US Special Forces. Following Desert Storm, two no-fly zones were set up over Iraq and policed mainly by US and UK aircraft. The Strike Eagle would fly into combat on many occasions over the next decade and was the most highly-tasked of all USAF tactical fighters. The F-15E usually attacked ammunition bunkers, command and control facilities, towed anti-aircraft batteries and launchers. It also cooperated with other aircraft in strikes.