Taken in September, the pic was recently made public by the U.S. Air Force (USAF), at a time when America needs to show just how powerful it is as it fights to keep things together at a global level. Not only does it show the allied F-15s flying a single file formation, but also the lead pilot sitting comfortably inside one in what is either a very peculiar position or a strange optical illusion (zoom on main pic to see what we mean).
America presently has a little over 200 such airplanes in its inventory. The first one entered service in 1988 as an evolution of the F-15 born more than a decade earlier.
In this configuration, the plane is powered by a couple of Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines with afterburners capable of generating up to 29,000 pounds of thrust each. The plane can fly at speeds of over Mach 2.5, being one of the fastest military birds in the sky, and can keep going for 2,400 miles (3,840 km) when using three external fuel tanks.
Weapons-wise, the F-15E Strike Eagle can carry a 500-round, 20 mm multi-barrel gun, four AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, and a selection of either four AIM-120 AMRAAM or eight AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles. Technically, it’s capable of holding “any air-to-surface weapon in the Air Force inventory,” be it nuclear or conventional.