The Strike Eagle of McDonnell Douglas is one of the best fighters in service, but the Israeli Air Force F-15I Ra' becomes its ultimate variant. This strike fighter is an example of what the IAF can do to tweak for its unique requirements while upgrading it to make it more potent.
What the IAF did to this fighter when it was modified was to drew out the maximum performance for dog fighting and as a strategic strike bomber. Even with the F-35I, Adir got kitted up for the unique requirements of Israeli pilots with the F-15 Ra' am as the main fighter.
Israel intends to keep them flying until it can as air superiority fighters even if new planes are acquired by the IAF.
American bred fighting Eagles made better!
The F-15 Eagle is the Cadillac of air superiority fighters, made for the dogfight dogma from Top Gun schools. This is optimized for air-to-air combat with large dual engines, single pilot, and a fully visible canopy for combat awareness, reported Nationalist Interest,
The F-15 is a single-seat figher plane that features large twin-engine, bubble canopy for excellent visibility, APG-63 radar, quad AIM-7 Sparrow missiles, and four AIM-9 Sidewinder. It is also armed with an M61 Gatling gun for up-close shooting like a gunfighter.
Powered by two P & W F100 engines that had more power to their weight, it can push the F-15 on afterburners. The F-15I Ra'am added more capability when it was introduced, cited Global Security.
The F-15 had the size and is perfectly made for other missions. It became the strike eagle that served the USAF in 1989, then famously controlled the skies in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
The Strike Eagle's performance caught Israel's eye, as they were hit by Iraqi scuds in the war. Tel Aviv was under siege by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's ballistic Scud missiles.
A fighter with long-range
The IAF decided range will be critical for stopping threats or going long distances to destroying threats like Iraq or Iran in strike missions. They are seeing the Strike Eagle as the right fit for their needs.
Finally, Israel settled for the F-15I in May of 1994 wherein a deal was reached to buy twenty-one of them first.
This variant was called Peace Fox V with options for four Peace Fox VI. In the end, twenty-five were bought in 1995.
Earlier F-15s bought had been in the IAF for the last fifteen years, which give engineers ideas to boost the plane's performance by then. Familiarity with the plane's avionics and systems was gained by the techs of the IAF.
Updates for the Ra'am (Thunder)
Israeli engineers are familiar with how much the big plane's airframe can carry about 18,000 pounds of fuel and munitions. Initially, it can carry thirty-six Rockeye cluster bombs or six Maverick AGMS. The weapons load on the F-15I are Paveway bombs, JDAMS guided munitions, Blu 109 bunker busters, SPICE bombs, and AGM-88 HARM.
Even if the F-35I Adir is used by the IAF, the Ra'am is a strategic strike plane is still the backbone. The F-15I Ra'am can hit farther with a greater weapons payload than an F-35I. More updates like an EASA radar and better avionics were done in 2016 to keep it fighting for years to come.