Continued From Previous Page One of the most important additions to the F-15E is the rear cockpit, and the weapons systems officer. On four screens, this officer can display information from the radar, electronic warfare or infrared sensors, monitor aircraft or weapons status and possible threats, select targets, and use an electronic "moving map" to navigate. Two hand controls are used to select new displays and to refine targeting information. Displays can be moved from one screen to another, chosen from a "menu" of display options. In addition to three similar screens in the front seat, the pilot has a transparent glass heads up display at eye level that displays vital flight and tactical information. The pilot doesn't need to look down into the cockpit, for example, to check weapon status. At night, the screen is even more important because it displays a video picture nearly identical to a daylight view of the world generated by the forward-looking infrared sensor. The F-15E is powered by two Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 or 229 engines that incorporate advanced digital technology for improved performance. For example, with a digital electronic engine control system, F-15E pilots can accelerate from idle power to maximum afterburner in less than four seconds, a 40 percent improvement over the previous engine control system. Faster engine acceleration means quicker takeoffs and crisper response while maneuvering. The F100-PW- 220 engines can produce 50,000 pounds of thrust (25,000 each) and the F100- PW-229 engines 58,000 pounds of thrust (29,000 each). Each of the low-drag conformal fuel tanks that hug the F-15E's fuselage can carry 750 gallons of fuel. The tanks hold weapons on short pylons rather than conventional weapon racks, reducing drag and further extending the range of the Strike Eagle. For air-to-ground missions, the F-15E can carry most weapons in the Air Force inventory. It also can be armed with AIM-9M Sidewinders or AIM-120 advanced medium range air-to-air missiles, or AMRAAM for the air-to-air role. The "E" model also has an internally mounted 20mm gun that can carry up to 500 rounds. Background The F-15's superior maneuverability and acceleration are achieved through its high engine thrust-to-weight ratio and low-wing loading. It was the first U.S. operational aircraft whose engines' thrust exceeded the plane's loaded weight, permitting it to accelerate even while in vertical climb. Low-wing loading (the ratio of aircraft weight to its wing area) is a vital factor in maneuverability and, combined with the high thrust-to-weight ratio, enables the aircraft to turn tightly without losing airspeed.