Strike Eagle Pilot Gives A Detailed Walk Around Tour Of An F-15E

Video from the flightline at RAF Lakenheath includes details of the important relationship between the F-15E’s pilot and weapon systems officer.

byJamie Hunter|
United Kingdom photo


Modern single-seat fighter jets with advanced avionics are extremely capable. However, many argue that the two crew members that fly in the U.S. Air Force’s F-15E Strike Eagle give this platform significantly more capability during highly complex missions, and especially those with complicated rules of engagement, in a highly complex battlespace, and where additional situational awareness may be critical to a mission's success, in general. As such the F-15E community is in high demand, with the type being regularly dispatched to global hotspots to tackle such high-end, multi-role combat missions in both air-to-air and air-to-ground regimes.

Air Force Lieutenant Colonel “Voodoo” Culver is an F-15E pilot with the 494th Fighter Squadron, known as the “Mighty Black Panthers,” based at Royal Air Force Lakenheath in the United Kingdom. The resident 48th Fighter Wing features two squadrons of F-15Es, an F-15C unit, and will start receiving F-35As as it reactivates the 495th Fighter squadron next year. In fact, the 48th recently announced a competition to name its latest unit.

In this detailed video, conducts a pre-flight walk around check and explains the key attributes of the Strike Eagle, plus the benefits of the two-person cockpit, featuring a pilot and Weapon Systems Officer (WSO), also known as a “whizzo.” Being at the very tip of the USAF spear as a forward-deployed overseas unit, the Strike Eagles of the 48th are regularly on the road, often taking part in a range of training exercises and combat deployments. 

The F-15E has received a range of upgrades in recent years, including the new Raytheon AN/APG-82 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, which means its multi-role mission is enhanced even further. They also have the ability to employ some niche capabilities, such as the AN/ASQ-236 “Dragon’s Eye” radar pod, as detailed in this previous War Zone feature. The type is also set to field a new self-protection capability in the form of the Eagle Passive/Active Warning and Survivability System (EPAWSS).

The range of enhancements means the Strike Eagle will continue to reign supreme in the European theater, so let’s hand it over to Lieutenant Colonel Culver, as he talks about the F-15E, known by many of its aviators as “The Mighty Mighty.”

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