Key Point: This very special F-15 is South Korea’s top jet fighter—and one that plays an especially critical role in that country’s defense.
On September 13, 2017 the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) test-fired a Taurus cruise missile in response to a North Korean ballistic missile test. In this video, you can see as an F-15K launch the boxy weapon, which plunges straight through the roof of a practice target, penetrating into the ground below before its main warhead detonates.
For decades, the South Korean military has had to prepare for a conflict in which its cities, especially the capital of Seoul, would be on the receiving end of a North Korean artillery, chemical weapons and ballistic missiles. Now, such an onslaught might potentially include nuclear warheads. Though such a scenario must be avoided at all costs, should it occur, it would be vital for South Korean and U.S. forces to destroy these heavily fortified missile and artillery sites as swiftly as possible.
That’s the mission assigned to the sixty F-15K Slam Eagles in the Republic of Korea Air Force. Based on the F-15E Strike Eagle fighter bomber in U.S. Air Force, the Slam Eagles have souped-up sensors and electronic warfare systems, and now are loaded with bunker-busting cruise missiles to blast open North Korean missile silos.
Those weapons could also be employed in an attempt to decapitate North Korean leadership in a fortified bunker, a point the South Korean military surely hoped to illustrate when it released the video.
South Korea’s Slam Eagles
The Strike Eagle is a fighter-bomber variant of the F-15 Eagle, loaded with extra weapons pylons, fuel tanks and sensors at the cost of modestly decreased thrust-to-weight ratio and maneuverability. The two-seat jets can still sprint at two-and-a-half times the speed of sound, and can lug an extraordinary 23,000 pounds of weapons, nearly three times the bomb load of a strategic bomber in World War II. On the downside, the large, twin-engine F-15 is much more expensive to operate than, say, a single-engine F-16, though the additional turbofan does contribute to a lower accident rate.