Strike fighter

Strike fighter

A strike fighter is a fighter aircraft which is also capable of attacking surface targets, including ships. It differs from an attack aircraft in that the aircraft remains a capable fighter. Previously, an airstrike on a ground target would usually involve bombers, defended by fighters. Strike-fighters can attack targets unaided, while remaining maneuverable and well-equipped enough to defend themselves.

Terminology

The term "strike fighter" is almost synonymous with the term "fighter-bomber", first seeing usage in the 1950s to describe a new generation of attack aircraft like the Blackburn Firebrand. The term can be considered more politically correct, as bomber aircraft can be portrayed as dropping bombs indiscriminately over a target area. Precision attacks are commonly termed "surgical strikes", a term that implies extremely accurate modern weapons and intelligence.

A strike fighter is differentiated from a multirole fighter in that the multirole fighter can equally perform both air combat and ground attack, while the strike fighter has an emphasis on ground attack with a minor role of air combat.

Examples

  • The Panavia Tornado was originally known as a fighter-bomber, and later became a strike fighter. The Tornado strike fighter is designated IDS, meaning ‘Interdiction/Strike’. IDS is the European equivalent of the US F/A designation. The term fighter-bomber remains in use when describing the Tornado, however, because it falls into an arbitrary class of older, slower, and less maneuverable strike fighters.
  • The Xian JH-7 is a Chinese strike fighter, although more of a fighter-bomber, in service with the PLA Air Force and Naval Air Force.
  • Recently, the term has become blurred. The F-117 Nighthawk is often referred to as a strike fighter, although it has no air-to-air capability and is therefore a pure attack aircraft. The F-22 Raptor was designated a F/A-22 between 2003 and 2005, implying a Fighter/Attack role, though it has since been returned to a fighter designation.
  • The latest generation of strike fighters are the Russian Sukhoi Su-30, US Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon, though current European parlance describes the Typhoon as a 'swing-role' aircraft. The F-35 Lightning II program is designing a multirole fighter with ground attack capability.
  • India is in the initial stages of developing a 5th generation strike aircraft under the program name Medium Combat Aircraft.

Popular culture

Strike Fighter is also the name of a Sega arcade game simulating an F/A-18 Hornet strike fighter, this game is a spiritual successor to the earlier After Burner series and its semi-sequel, G-LOC: Air Battle. In fact, Strike Fighter was ported as After Burner III on the Sega Mega-CD. A sequel, Sega Strike Fighter was released for the Sega Naomi arcade board, though this game plays more like the Ace Combat series.

References

External links

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