A strike fighter
is a fighter aircraft
used to attack surface targets of high value, including ships
. It differs from a attack aircraft
in that the aircraft remains a fighter, able to fight other fighters, whereas an attack aircraft typically has no, or very limited, capability in this regard.
More recently the term has become increasingly blurry. The F-117 Nighthawk is often referred to as a strike fighter, although it has no air-to-air capability and is thus an attack plane.