Text & Pictures: Serge Van Heertum - Translation: Marc Arys
sbap 2020
 
 
RAF Mildenhall, (IATA: MHZ, ICAO: EGUN) is a Royal Air Force (RAF) station located near Mildenhall in Suffolk, England. Despite its status as a Royal Air Force station, it primarily supports United States Air Force (USAF) operations, and is currently the home of the 100th Air Refueling Wing (100 ARW).
RAF Mildenhall, together with its sister base RAF Lakenheath, has the largest United States Air Force presence in the United Kingdom.

Short history:

RAF Mildenhall is named after the nearby town of Mildenhall, Suffolk. It was established as a Royal Air Force station in 1930, and opened in 1934. During World War II, RAF Bomber Command used the station for operational combat missions until 1945.
Placed on standby status after the war, it was reopened by the Royal Air Force and became a USAF-RAF joint operation base on July 11th, 1950, assigned to Strategic Air Command (SAC) to accomodate B-29 Superfortress bombers. It became a B-50 Superfortress base in 1952, and a B-47 Stratojet and KC-97 Stratofreighter base from 1953 until 1958.
Closed for runway repairs throughout 1958, the Military Air Transport Service transferred its main United Kingdom terminal to Mildenhall from RAF Burtonwood on March 1st, 1959 and the airfield became 'The Gateway to the United Kingdom' for most U.S. military personnel and dependents arriving or departing the United Kingdom.
On September 1st, 1959 the base was assigned from Strategic Air Command to the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) and RAF relinquished joint operations status on the same date. The base remains continuous under USAFE operations until today.
On January 8th, 2015 the United States Department of Defense announced that operations at RAF Mildenhall would end (along with those at RAF Molesworth and RAF Alconbury), be relocated to Germany (Spangdahlem Air Base) and also elsewhere within the UK.
On January 18th, 2016 the British Ministry of Defence announced that the RAF Mildenhall would be closed as an airfield and the site to be sold. However, a change in presidential administrations in the United States, heightened security concerns on the part of the United States, the United Kingdom, NATO pertaining to Europe and the Middle East, and a variety of other issues have prompted a reassessment on RAF Mildenhall's closure.
As of 2017, the closure process of RAF Mildenhall has been put on indefinite hold and as of December 2018, it is planned that USAF personnel will move from RAF Mildenhall to RAF Fairford by 2024 the earliest. A recent news report by Forces News says the closure has been extended to at least 2027.

   
 
RAF Mildenhall Units
 

100th Air Refueling Wing:
The host unit at RAF Mildenhall is the 100th Air Refueling Wing (100 ARW), which deploys aircraft for and manages the European Tanker Task Force. A rotational force which provides air refueling to US and NATO aircraft in the European Theatre. It is the only permanent USAF air-refueling wing on the European theatre, activated at RAF Mildenhall on February 1st, 1992.
The wing provides the critical air refueling 'bridge' that allows the Expeditionary Air Force to deploy around the globe with the appropriate urgency. The tactical component of the 100 ARW is the 351st Air Refueling Squadron (351 ARS), flying the Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker.

100th Air Refuelling Wing (Air Mobility Command)
- 351st Air Refuelling Squadron (KC-135R Stratotanker)
- 100th Maintenance Group
- 100th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
- 100th Maintenance Squadron
- 100th Mission Support Group
- 100th Civil Engineer Squadron
- 100th Communications Squadron
- 100th Force Support Squadron
- 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron
- 100th Security Forces Squadron

352nd Special Operations Wing:
The 352nd Special Operations Wing (352 SOW) is the air force component for US Special Operations Command in Europe, a sub-unified command of the US European Command. It transferred from RAF Alconbury to RAF Mildenhall on 17 February 1995. The 352 SOW has two flying squadrons, a maintenance squadron, an operations support squadron and a special tactics squadron.
The mission of the 352nd SOW is to serve as the focal point for all US Air Force special operations activities throughout the European theatre, including Africa and the Middle East. The 352 SOW is tasked to conduct a variety of high priority, low-visibility missions supporting US and allied special operations forces throughout the European theatre during peacetime, joint operations exercises and combat operations.
The 352nd SOW develops and implements peacetime and wartime contingency plans. It effectively uses fixed-wing and personnel assets in infiltration by, exfiltration by and resupplying of US and allied special operations forces.

352nd Special Operations Wing (Air Force Special Operations Command)
- 7th Special Operations Squadron (Bell Boeing CV-22 Osprey)
- 67th Special Operations Squadron (Lockheed MC-130J Commando II)
- 321st Special Tactics Squadron
- 352nd Special Operations Support Squadron
- 352nd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron
- 352nd Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
- 352nd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron
- Joint Special Operations Air Component-Europe (JSOAC-E)
- 25th Intelligence Squadron

55th Wing (Air Combat Command):
The 95th Reconnaissance Squadron (95 RS) of the US Air Force is integrated in the 55th Wing / 55th Operation group and conducts RC-135 Rivet Joint flight operations in the European and Mediterranean theatres of operations, as tasked by National Command Authorities and European Command. It was activated at RAF Mildenhall on 1 July 1994, having been previously assigned to RAF Alconbury.
The squadron provides all operational management, aircraft maintenance, administration, and intelligence support to produce politically sensitive real-time intelligence data vital to national foreign policy.
he 95th RS supports RC-135, OC-135, and E-4 missions when theatre deployed.

55th Wing (Air Combat Command)
- 95th Reconnaissance Squadron (Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint)
- 488th Intelligence Squadron

    
Ford tractor and ground power unit Fueling truck on duty
View of the control tower The maekup
Lockheed C-5M Super Galaxy (87-0041) 337th AS (Westover AB)
on the visitor parking
The Boeing-Bell CV-22B "Ospry" (7th SOS) flight line
 
Flying Operations
 
Morning training flight for this Lockheed MC-130J The 11-5737 (c/n 5737) is operated by 67th Special Operations Sqn
 Face to face with a tanker The nose of the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker
 The 61-0288 (c/n 18195/T0510) from the 100 ARW at holding point
Full throttle... ...and take off
A couple of touch and go for the "5737" Nose view
Left gear landing...
Old but still elegant, this is the KC-135
The 59-1513 (c/n 18001) Nose art : "The reluctant dragon" Holding point, ready for take off
Some more touch and go for the MC-130J "5137"
Nose details Lift off
Mighty Hercules ! Left turn to line up facing the track
 Nice view of the 67th Special Operations Squadron MC-130J aircraft
Mildenhall visitor: Lockheed P-3C Orion (BuNo 162998) from the US Navy VP-46 "Grey Knights"
Close up on the nose and the "Wolff Pack" nose art Engine close up and strutural lines
Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker 57-1493 (c/n 17564) 351 ARS / 100 ARW
View of the CFM International CFM56-2B Mission accomplished for the 58-0100
Belly view with the guidance line Left turn down wind
Training flight for the Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker 58-0113 (c/n 17858)
Close up on the nose and the "All American Girl" nose art Some touch and go
A splendid day for training missions... ...and one more approach for the "5737"
"All American Girl" on duty Heading correction before the touch
A concept of more than 60 years...but quite elegant
A last pass of the "5737" Nice job guys ;-)
Back to base from operational mission for the Lockheed MC-130J 13-5786 (c/n 5786) from 67 SOS
 

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