Animated continuity - Sunbow
When we first see Skystrikers, they are just a recent addition to the G.I. Joe arsenal. They were fresh from flight testing when Cobra made an assault attempt on the G.I. Joe base. Several Skystrikers were destroyed in the process but Duke and Scarlett were able to commandeer one and caused Cobra to retreat. At the Ring of Fire, Duke and Ace led a squadron of Skystrikers in keeping Cobra from taking the final M.A.S.S. catalyst. Skystrikers came in to make one of the final push against the uphill battle over Cobra's defenses at the mountain that holds the Cobra Temple.
When equipped with a detachable rocket propulsion module mounted between the vertical tails, the Skystrikers were also capable of orbital spaceflight. Though able to reach space under their own power in this manner, launch aboard a large, expendable booster rocket was also an option. Using this method, several Skystrikers could be orbited simultaneously, mounted around the perimeter of the booster's upper stage. This way, a small squadron of them could be sent up to take on larger targets, such as Cobra manned space stations.
Real life Counterpart
The Sky Striker is obviously based on the real life Grumman F-14 Tomcat Naval fighter. These includes the Tomcat most distingushing feature, its swing-wings, which can be swept between 20 degrees for take-offs and landings to slow speeds, to up to 68 degrees for high speed supersonic dashes (the figher also has a 75 degrees "oversweep" for onboard aircraft carrier storage). Judging by the date when it was first revealed in the cartoons, the Sky Striker is probably based on the F-14A Tomcat with the older TF-31 engines, rather than the later F-14B and F-14D, with the F-110 engines. Armaments for the Tomcat includes the AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-7 Sparrow and the AIM-54 Phoenix missiles. The plane itself also has a internal M61 Vulcan 20mm gatling cannon.
- The official designation of the Sky Striker, XP-14F is a huge call out to the plane that inspired it, the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. However, in modern day nomenclature, the "X" refer to eXperimental when it's obvious the Sky Striker is an operational fighter. The "P" is the U.S. World War II (then the USAAF, United States Army Air Force) designation for a fighter, P standing for "Pursuit". The "F" is the model number, although in this case it can be considered to be a call out to the "F" in the F-14 (F in modern day nomenclature means "Fighter").
- A real-life Tomcat has two crew members, a pilot and a RIO (Radar Intercept Officer). But as shown in the cartoons, it's often operated by one person with the second seat empty.
- Due to sloppy animation or low animation budget, especially far away shots, the Sky Striker's swing wing is very unclear or even eliminated. Various simpler wing shapes were drawn, including ones similar to the F-15 Eagle and Russian SU-27 Flanker.
- One of the Tomcat's more famous weapons, the AIM-54 Phoenix missile is never shown on the Sky Striker. Rather, only the Sidewinder and the Sparrow are shown and their placement on the aircraft can vary from episode to episode.
- The Sky Striker's black vertical stabilizers could be influenced by a real-life Tomcat squadron from the 1980s, the VF-84 Jolly Rogers.
- There is one, called the Night Boomer. The Night Boomer was part of the G.I. Joe Night Force line.
- The XP-21F Is a 30th anniversary edition. The plane is a single-seater. The plane includes Cpt. Ace.
- A Decepticon version meant to represent the Transformer, Starscream, was released as an exclusive at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2011.
- An Autobot version meant to represent the Transformer, Jetfire, was released as an exclusive at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2013.