The McDonnell-Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle operates on the hot-rod principle of stuffing large, powerful engines into a compact package, yielding what is arguably the most powerful plane in its class. Granted, the F-22 Raptor, to be deployed in 2005, has two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 engines said to deliver 35,000 pounds of thrust apiece-but the F-22 won't be as quick as the F-15E. According to the U.S. Air Force, the
F-15 was the first operational fighter whose engines' thrust exceeded its loaded weight, meaning it could accelerate while in a vertical climb. Powered, in some versions, by a pair of 29,000-pound-thrust Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 turbofan jet engines, the F-15E is capable of Mach 2.5, or 1,875 mph, and has a combat ceiling of 35,000 feet. Cost: $31 million.