F-15E Fighter Jets Can Now Be Loaded With Twice as Many JASSM Missiles

Project Strike Rodeo is the story of how a great idea can turn into a fully-funded official operation that goes beyond limitations and makes the impossible possible.
An F-15E was loaded with 5 JASSMs during Project Strike Rodeo 6 photos
Photo: Air Combat Command
F-15E during Project Strike RodeoF-15E during Project Strike RodeoF-15E during Project Strike RodeoF-15E during Project Strike RodeoF-15E during Project Strike Rodeo
It all started with a problem. Earlier this year, during a Weapons and Tactics Conference (WEPTAC), expert tacticians were analyzing whether a formation of fighter jets would be more effective than a single bomber, in carrying Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSM) for missions in highly-contested environments. This way, the size of the strike package could be reduced and risks would be distributed. But the problem was that a fighter jet can only carry maximum two JASSMs.

This is how the idea of enabling a fighter to carry more than two missiles was born and the F-15E Strike Eagle was chosen as a test jet. However, Project Strike Rodeo seemed to get stuck before it even began, because these particular munitions did not fit on the F-15E’s fuel tank weapons stations. The JASSM could only be loaded straight from its container, which was too big to fit under the F-15E’s base.

But then, a team of eager and resourceful soldiers from different units within the 53rd Wing, 96th Test Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, decided to keep pushing for a solution. According to Lt. Col. Mike Benitez, 53rd Wing director of staff, everybody was excited about this and wanted to give a helping hand.

Together with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, they came up with the idea of a special loading tool. The tool was designed, manufactured and new loading procedures were also set up. Then, the Project managed to obtain a funding for the actual load test, which proved to be a success. For the first time, an F-15E could now be loaded with 5 JASSMs.

In less than half of year, what was just an idea, at first, turned into Project Strike Rodeo. And it doesn’t stop here, as future flight tests are expected for the F-15E, which would double its current JASSM-carrying capacity.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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