The Complete Guide to Computer Aviation
by Steve Smith
THE F-15 VERSUS THE MiG-25
The F-15 is also hot on paper, but unlike the MiG-25, which is sort of an intercontinental ballistic missile with an emergency seat, the F-15 can turn and burn with the best of them. (In fact, an F-15 and a MiG-25 met once, in 1981, high above the killing grounds of the Middle East. The F-15 won.) The Eagle is also enormously expensive, which is why Congress opted for a hi/low mix of F-15s and F-16s for the Air Force (and F-14s—another cost-no-object air-superiority fighter—and F/A-18s for the Navy).
About twice the size and weight of the Falcon, the F-15 has two Pratt and Whitney F100 turbofan engines (of which the F-16 has one), with a total of 50,000 pounds of thrust, giving it a top speed of almost 1,700 miles per hour and a ceiling of 65,000 feet. A specially tweaked Streak Eagle set time-to-climb records of zero to 65,000 feet in two minutes flat and zero to 100,000 in three. The Eagle can "only" pull six G's in a turn, compared to the Falcon's nine G's, but to date it has lost no dogfights: the record stands at about eighty assorted Warsaw Pact aircraft to zero Eagles.
Almost fifteen years after the single-seater version appeared in 1972, McDonnell Douglas brought out the two-seater F-15E model, specifically designed for the ground-strike role. With its updated Hughes AN/APG-70 radar and other state-of-the-art electronics, the Strike Eagle (as it was immediately dubbed) is something like George Lucas' Death Star: a flying weapons platform with the capability to end civilization for anything in its orbit. Its most impressive feat: miles from its target, it can briefly turn on its mapping radar and distinguish between objects as little as ten feet apart thirty miles away, then fly "nap of the earth" for the remaining distance, fifty feet off the deck at 600 miles per hour, with unerring accuracy, in pitch dark, in any weather, arriving on target plus or minus about six inches.
Mirabile dictu, this has all been faithfully re-created in MicroProse's F-15 Strike Eagle III. Like Falcon 3.0, Eagle III offers individual missions or a campaign mode, even an "Instant Action" mode (here called "Quickstart"), as well as three theaters of operations: Kuwait/Iraq during the Gulf War (you progress from the opening hostilities—the views of Kuwait City's fabled towers are quite impressive—to "The Great Scud Hunt"); Korea (MicroProse is not alone in assuming North Korea's lust for nuclear weapons will someday bring about a Göttedämmerung—here it seems to be sooner rather than later); and Panama (the usual suspects—drug lords, leftist revolutionaries, tinhorn dictators—conspire to lure you into Jungle Hell).
Unlike Falcon 3.0, Eagle III leaves you free to make individual decisions for yourself, like selecting your weapons loadout, choosing a flight profile, even declining a mission that doesn't pique your interest.