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.


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.


  • 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.


External links

Search another word or see Strike Fighteron Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature