Strike fighter

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Not to be confused with "strike aircraft", an alternative term for an attack aircraft.
For the video game called Strike Fighter, see After Burner III.
An F-15E Strike Eagle dropping a GBU-28 precision guided bomb.

In current military parlance, a strike fighter is a multirole combat aircraft designed to operate primarily in the air-to-surface attack role while also incorporating certain performance characteristics of a fighter aircraft. As a category, it is distinct from fighter-bombers. It is a closely related concept to interdictor aircraft,[citation needed] but it puts more emphasis on air-to-air combat capabilities as a multirole combat aircraft. Examples of contemporary American strike fighters are the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, and Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.


Firebrand TF Mk. IV

Beginning in the 1940s, the term "strike fighter" was occasionally used in navies to refer to fighter aircraft capable of performing air-to-surface strikes, such as the Westland Wyvern[1] and Blackburn Firebrand.[2] It entered normal use in the United States Navy[3] by the end of the 1970s, becoming the official[4] description of the new McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. In 1983, the U.S. Navy even renamed each existing Fighter Attack Squadron to Strike Fighter Squadron to emphasize[5] the air-to-surface mission (as the "Fighter Attack" designation was confused with the "Fighter" designation, which flew pure air-to-air missions).

This name quickly spread to non-maritime use. When the F-15E Strike Eagle came into service, it was originally called a "dual role fighter",[6] but it instead quickly became known as a "strike fighter".

Joint Strike Fighter[edit]

An F-35B test dropping an inert 500-pound GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb

In 1995, the U.S. military's Joint Advanced Strike Technology program changed its name to the Joint Strike Fighter program.[7] The project consequently resulted in the development of the F-35 Lightning II family of fifth generation multirole fighters to perform ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions with stealth capability.

Strike fighters[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Aerospace Engineering, Volume 6." Institute of the Aerospace Sciences, 1947.
  2. ^ The Aeroplane: Volume 75, 1948.
  3. ^ "Inside story of the troubled F/A-18." Popular Science, Volume 223, Issue 4, October 1983. ISSN 0161-73702. Retrieved: 23 December 2011. Quote: ... can fly either as a fighter or an attack plane [...] In Navy parlance, it is a strike fighter.
  4. ^ "The FY 1981 military programs." Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 36, Issue 6, June 1980, p. 38. ISSN 0096-3402. Retrieved: 23 December 2011.
  5. ^ Polmar 1997, p. 343.
  6. ^ Defence Update (International), Issues 79-84, p. 43.
  7. ^ "Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)." Retrieved: 2 February 2011.
  • Polmar, Norman. The Naval Institute Guide to the Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1997. ISBN 978-1-59114-685-8.