Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: Serge Van Heertum, Anthony Graulus, Pierre Taquet, Patrick Brouckaert -Translation: Marc Arys
 ©sbap 2020
 
Lakenheath Airbase (IATA: LKZ, ICAO: EGUL) is a Royal Air Force station near the village of Lakenheath in the Suffolk county, United Kingdom. The base is located 7,6 kilometer North-East of Mildenhall airbase. The base sits close to Brandon city.
Despite being an RAF station, Lakenheath currently only hosts United States Air Force units and personnel. The host wing is the 48th Fighter Wing (48 FW), also known as the Liberty Wing, assigned to United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE).
 
(Google Earth)
 
History of the airbase
 
First World War (1914 - 1918)
The first use of Lakenheath Warren as a Royal Flying Corps airfield was during the First World War, when the area was used as a bombing and ground-attack range for aircraft flying from different locations in the vicinity. The site was not so much used and was simply abandoned in 1918 after the war ended.

Second World War (1940 - 1945)
In 1940, the Air Ministry selected Lakenheath as an alternate location for nearby RAF Mildenhall and used it as a decoy airfield. False lights, runways and some non-used installations made Luftwaffe aircraft divert from their initial target: Mildenhall airbase.
Surfaced runways were constructed in 1941, with the main runway (04/22) being 1,83 kilometers and the subsidiaries: runway (12/30) 1,19 kilometers and runway (16/34) 1,8 kilometers. Hardstands for thirty-six aircraft were built, along with two T-2 and a B-1 hangar types. One T-2 hangar was located on the technical site, the others on the east across the Mildenhall-Brandon road (A1065).
Lakenheath was used by RAF flying units on detachment late in 1941. The station soon functioned as a Mildenhall satellite with Short Stirling bombers of N°. 149 Squadron dispersed from the parent airfield as conditions allowed. The squadron swapped its Vickers Wellingtons for Stirlings late in November 1941. After becoming fully operational with its new aircraft, the squadron moved into Lakenheath on April 6th, 1942 and remained there until mid-1944 when the squadron moved to RAF Methwold in the Norfolk County.
Taking part in more than 350 operations, the 149 Squadron had one of the lowest percentage loss rates of all RAF Stirling squadrons. One Stirling pilot, Flight Sergeant Rawdon Middleton, was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously. The night of 28 to 29 November 1942, when despite serious face wounds and loss of blood from shell-fire during a raid on the Fiat works at Turin in Italy, he brought the damaged aircraft back towards southern England. With fuel nearly exhausted, he ordered his crew to bail out. Middleton was killed when his Short Stirling, coded BF372 (OJ-H), crashed into the English Channel.
In early 1943, three T-2 hangars were erected on the north side of the airfield for glider storage, forty Horsa Gliders being dispersed at Lakenheath during that year.
On June 21st, 1943, 199 Squadron was established as a second Stirling squadron and started operations on July 31st, 1943. During the winter period of 1943-1944, the squadron laid mines against the Kriegmarine. At the end of April 1944, after sixty-eight operations, the squadron was transferred to the 100 Group for bomber support and moved to RAF North Creake in Norfolk on May 1st, 1944.
The 149 Squadron ended its association with RAF Lakenheath the same month and moved to RAF Methwold. During the Lakenheath period, the two squadrons lost no less than 116 Short Stirling bombers in combat.

 
Short Stirling Mk III (W7455) OJ-B from 149 Squadron
(UK MoD archives)
Short Stirling Mk I (R9167) OJ-N from 149 Squadron
(UK MoD archives)
Short Stirling Mk III (LJ531) EX-N from 199 Squadron
(UK MoD archives)
Short Stirling Mk III (LJ-514) EX-B from 199 Squadron
(UK MoD archives)
 
The reason for the departure of the two bomber squadrons was Lakenheath's selection for upgrading to a Very Heavy Bomber airfield. Lakenheath was one of three RAF airfields being prepared to receive United States Army Air Forces Boeing B-29 Superfortresses, which were tentatively planned to replace some of Eighth Air Force's Consolidated B-24 Liberator groups in the spring of 1945.
The work entailed removal of the existing runways and laying new ones comprising 30 centimeters of high-grade concrete. The main runway (07/25) was 2,74 kilometers long; the subsidiaries, (01/19) and (14/32) 1,83 kilometers long and all three being around 90 meters wide.
During the peak period of construction, over 1,000 men were working on the site; yet instead of the 12 months planned, it took 18 months for the ground work alone and 2,5 years before Lakenheath's transformation was completed. The cost was nearly the 2 million pounds.
During the construction, the war with Germany was over and RAF Lakenheath was put on a care and maintenance status.

Cold War (1946 -1990)
Cold War tensions with the Soviet Union in Europe began just after the Second World War in 1946. In November 1946, President Harry S. Truman ordered Strategic Air Command (SAC) B-29 bombers to deploy to RAF Burtonwood in Lancashire, and from there to various bases in West Germany as a "training deployment". In May 1947, additional B-29's were sent to the UK and Germany to keep up the presence of a training program. These deployments were only a pretense, as the true aim of these B-29's was to have a strategic air force permanently stationed in Europe.
In April 1947, RAF Bomber Command returned to Lakenheath, repaired the damaged runways and resurfaced them. Everything was ready for operations by May 1948.

Strategic Air Command: In response to the threat of the Soviet Union, by the 1948 Berlin blockade, President Truman decided to realign United States Air Force Europe (USAFE) into a permanent combat-capable force. In July 1948, SAC B-29 Superfortresses of the 2nd Bomb Group were deployed to Lakenheath for a 90 days temporary deployment.
On November 27th, 1948, operational control of RAF Lakenheath was transferred from the Royal Air Force to USAFE. The first USAFE unit hosted at Lakenheath was the 7504th Base Completion Squadron, being activated on that date. The squadron was elevated to an Air Base Group (ABG) on 28 January 28th, 1950, and to a Wing (ABW) on September 26th, 1950.
Control of Lakenheath was allocated to the Third Air Force at RAF South Ruislip, which was in command of SAC B-29 operations in the United Kingdom.
The Third Air Force was subsequently placed directly under USAF orders, with SAC establishing the 7th Air Division Headquarters at RAF Mildenhall. The collocation of the two headquarters within the United Kingdom allowed HQ USAFE to discharge its responsibilities in England, while at the same time allowing SAC to continue in its deterrent role while retaining operational control over flying activities at Lakenheath.
By 1950, Lakenheath was one of the three main operating bases for the Strategic Air Command in the UK, the others being RAF Marham and RAF Sculthorpe both in the Norfolk County. A succession of bombing squadrons and wings (33 in total) rotated through Lakenheath, the B-29's giving way to the improved Boeing B-50 Superfortresses and subsequently, in June 1954, Boeing B-47 Stratojets.
On May 1st, 1951, Lakenheath was transferred from USAFE to SAC, and placed under the 3909th Air Base Group. By 1952, high security perimeter fencing was erected. The 3909th moved to RAF Greenham Common in Berkshire during 1954, and was replaced by the 3910th Air Base Group.

Known SAC units which deployed to RAF Lakenheath on temporary duty were:

830th Bombardment Squadron (from 01-06-1949 to 21-08-1949) (B-50D) from 509th Composite Group, Walker AFB, New Mexico.
65th Bombardment Squadron (from 15-08-1949 to 15-11-1949) (B-50D) from 43rd Bombardment Wing, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona.
33rd Bombardment Squadron (from 20-11-1949 to 18-02-1950) (B-29) from 22nd Bombardment Wing, March AFB, California.
96th Bombardment Squadron (from 22-02-1950 to 12-05-1950) (B-50D) from the 2nd Bombardment Wing, Hunter AFB, Georgia.
301st Bombardment Wing (from 28-06-1950 to 28-11-1950) (B-29) from Barksdale AFB, Louisiana.
97th Bombardment Wing (from 15-03-1952 to 01-04-1952) (B-50D, KC-97) from Biggs AFB, Texas.
19th Bombardment Squadron (from 06-09-1951 to 13-12-1951) (B-29) from the 22nd Bombardment Wing, March AFB, California.

The increasing tension of the Cold War lead to a re-evaluation of these deployments, and by 1953 SAC began to move its heavy bomb groups further west, to RAF Brize Norton, RAF Greenham Common, RAF Upper Heyford and RAF Fairford, while its shorter-range B-47 were sent to East Anglia.

43rd Air Refueling Squadron (from 21-03-1953 to 05-06-1953) (KC-97) from the 43rd Bombardment Wing, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona.
321st Bombardment Wing (from 09-12-1954 to 09-03-1955) (B-47, KC-97) from Pinecastle AFB, Florida.
40th Bombardment Wing (from 09-06-1955 to 09-09-1955) (B-47, KC-97) from Schilling AFB, Kansas.
340th Bombardment Wing (from 14-09-1955 to 03-11-1955) (B-47, KC-97) from Whiteman AFB, Missouri.
98th Bombardment Wing (from 12-11-1955 to 28-01-1956) (B-47, KC-97) from Lincoln AFB, Nebraska.
Lakenheath Task Force (from 01-05-1955 to unknown) (RB/ERB-47H) Electronic Reconnaissance and Countermeasures.
from 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, Forbes AFB, Kansas.
509th Air Refueling Squadron (from 26-01-1956 to 30-04-1956) (KC-97) from Walker AFB, New Mexico.
307th Bombardment Wing (from 11-07-1956 to 05-10-1956) (B-47, KC-97) from Lincoln AFB, Nebraska.

Many SAC Squadrons had aircraft at Lakenheath on a transitory basis without any recorded deployment to the base. For example, in January 1951, a detachment of Convair RB-36D "Peacemaker" intercontinental bombers from the 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing homebased at Travis AFB, California arrived for a few days, and various tanker and transport aircraft also made periodic appearances at the base. Several of the temporary detachments included tanker aircraft.
On April 30th, 1956 two Lockheed U-2's were airlifted to Lakenheath form CIA Detachment. The first flight of the U-2 was on May 21st. The Central Intelligence Agency unit did not remain for a long time, and moved to Wiesbaden Air Base, West Germany on June 15th.
A near nuclear accident occurred on July 27th, 1956 when a B-47 "Stratojet" bomber crashed during a training mission into a storage igloo at Lakenheath containing three Mark 6 nuclear weapons. Although the bombs involved in the accident did not have their fusion cores installed, each of them carried about 8,000 pounds of high explosives as part of their trigger mechanism. The crash and ensuing fire did not ignite the high explosives and no detonation occurred. The damaged weapons and components were later returned to the Atomic Energy Commission. The B-47 involved in the accident, which killed four crewmen, was part of the 307th Bomb Wing.
On October 10th, 1956, a United States Navy Douglas R6D-1 Liftmaster disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean after departure from RAF Lakenheath for a flight to Lajes Field in the Azores. The aircraft was on a Military Air Transport Service flight carrying 50 members of the 307th Bomb Wing, on their way home to the United States after a temporary duty assignment and a US Navy crew of nine. All 59 personnel on board were lost.

   
Boeing B-29A Superfortress
(USAF archives via Web)
Boeing B-50D Superfortress
(USAF archives via Web)
Boeing KC-97F Stratofreighter
(USAF archives via Web)
Boeing B-47E Stratojet
(USAF archives via Web)
Boeing RB-47H Stratojet
(USAF archives via Web)
 

48th Tactical Fighter Wing
Following French president Charles de Gaulle's insistence in 1959 that all non-French nuclear-capable forces should be withdrawn from his country, the USAF began a redeployment of its North American F-100 Super Sabre units from France. The 48th TFW left Chaumont-Semoutiers Airbase, France on January 15th,1960 towards Lakenheath airbase. The comeback of the first F-100D at Lakenheath symbolized the return of the "Statue of Liberty" Wing in the UK
Almost 16 years went by since the Second World War when Ninth Air Force 48th Fighter Group's arrived at RAF Ibsley, England, for the D-Day invasion.
In conjunction with this transfer, control of Lakenheath was transferred from Strategic Air Command back to U.S. Air Force Europe command. As soon as the Strategic Air Command elements began to leave the airbase, the 3910th Air Base Group began its transition of handing Lakenheath's facilities and real estate over to the 48th's Combat Support Group elements.

The tactical components of the 48th TFW upon arrival at Lakenheath were:

492d Tactical Fighter Squadron (LR, blue colours)
493d Tactical Fighter Squadron (LS, yellow colours)
494th Tactical Fighter Squadron (LT, red colours)

The squadron markings consisted of alternating stripes across the tailfin in squadron colours, with a shadowed "V" shaped chevron on the nose. Starting in March 1970, squadron tail codes (shown above) were added when the aircraft went from a natural finish to a Vietnam type camouflage scheme.
The period between 1972 and 1977 can be described as a five years aircraft conversion period. Beginning in late 1971, the 48th TFW started its conversion to the McDonnell Douglas F-4D Phantom II, with the aircraft being transferred from the 81st TFW of RAF Bentwaters in Suffolk.
The conversion to the F-4D took several years and the last F-100D Super Sabre left the airbase in August 1974. With the arrival of the F-4D Phantom II, the markings became common to all aircraft with the unique tail code of "LK". This tail code lasted only a few months as in July and August 1972 the 48th TFW further recoded to "LN". The F-4D carried squadron identifying fin cap colours of blue, yellow and red (492nd , 493rd , 494th respectively).

 
North American F-100F Super Sabre (Note the 3 Squadon colours)
(USAFE media center via Web)
McDonell-Douglas F-4D Phantom II
(USAFE media center via Web)
 

The F-4's service with the 48th TFW was short, as operation "Ready Switch" transferred the F-4D assets to the 474th TFW at Nellis AFB, Nevada. The 474th sent their General Dynamics F-111. As to the 366th TFW at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, and the 366th sent their F-111F's to Lakenheath in early 1977.
A fourth fighter squadron, the 495th Tactical Fighter Squadron was activated with the 48th TFW on 1 April 1st,1977, with a squadron green tail colour. The 495th mission of functioning as a replacement training unit for the other three fighter squadrons. This made the 495th and the 48th TFW unique, as being the only WSO (Weapons System Operator) training unit for USAFE.
The F-111's from the 48th TFW participated in 1986 to the memorable bomb attack. This bombing of Libya prompted the mock-acronym, "Lakenheath Is Bombing Your Ass". During the operation one F-111 from Lakenheath was shot down by Libyan anti-aircraft forces and the two crew members were sadly lost in action.

 
48th TFW "Miss Liberty"
(Serge Van Heertum©)
F-111F "Aardvark" 74-0180 from 492 TFS (Blue tail)
Note the "Campaign Ribbon" on the tail. Was one of 19 F-111F deployed with 12 hours notice after the infamous "Tree Chopping Incident", where North Korean troops murdered an US Army officer on the DMZ 16 in August 1976.
(Serge Van Heertum©)
F-111F "Aardvark" 70-2386 from 493 TFS (Yellow tail)
Callsign: JEWEL 64 during "Operation El Dorado Canyon" against Lybian installations in 1986
(Serge Van Heertum©)
F-111F "Aardvark" 74-0184 from 494 TFS (Red tail)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
F-111F "Aardvark" 71-0884 from 495 TFS (Green tail)
Note the "Campaign Ribbon" on the tail: Nicknamed the "Executioner" during  "Operation Desert Storm. Aircraft had numerous tank and shelter kill markings.
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 

El Dorado Canyon April 15th,1986
On April 5th, 1986, Libyan agents bombed "La Belle" nightclub in West Berlin, killing three people, including a U.S. serviceman, and injuring 229 people. West Germany and the United States obtained cable transcripts from Libyan agents in East Germany who were involved in the attack.
After several unproductive days of meeting with European and Arab nations, and influenced by an American serviceman's death, President Ronald Reagan, ordered the 14th of April an air raid on the following Libyan targets:
- Bab al-Azizia Barracks in Tripoli was Gadhafi's command and control center for overseas operations.
- Murrat Sidi Bilal in Tripoli was a training camp for naval commandos and combat frogmen.
- Mitiga International Airport was the Ilyushin Il-76 transports aircraft hamebase.
- Jamahiriyah Guard barracks in Benghazi was an alternate command and control headquarters for overseas operations, and contained a warehouse for MiG components storage.
- Benina International Airport was an interceptor fighter homebase.
U.S.A.F. Strike Force: No less than Twenty-eight McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extenders and Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers took off from RAF Mildenhall and RAF Fairford shortly after 7:00PM on April 14th, These tankers conducted four silent refueling operations over the 9700 km round-trip route the F-111s would fly to target. Within minutes the tankers were followed by twenty-four F-111F "Aardvark" strike aircraft of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing, flying from RAF Lakenheath and five EF-111A Ravens of the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing from RAF Upper Heyford. Six F-111s and one EF-111A were designated as spares and returned to base after the first refueling was completed without any problems.
The raid began in the early hours of April 15th , with the stated objectives of sending a message and reducing Libya's ability to support and train terrorists. Reagan warned the Lybian with the sentence: "if necessary, shall do it again!"
Coordinated jamming by the EF-111s and EA-6B Prowlers began at 01:54AM (all timing given in Libyan local time), as the A-7s and F/A-18s began launching AGM-88 HARM and AGM-45 Shrike to neutralize SAM sites. The main attack began at 02:00AM, and lasted about twelve minutes, with 60 tons of munitions dropped. The F-111F "Aardvark" bombers' rules of engagement required target identification by both radar and Pave Tack prior to bomb release to minimize possible collateral damage. Of the nine F-111s targeting Bab al-Azizia, only three placed their GBU-10 Paveway II bombs on target. One of the six F-111s assigned to bomb the Tripoli airfield aborted its mission with a terrain-following radar malfunction, but the remaining five dropped BSU-49 high drag bombs destroying two Il-76 transport aircraft.
It's interesting to note that Libyan anti-aircraft fire did not begin until the planes had passed over their targets. No Libyan fighters could be scrambled the massive jamming prevented any of the 2K12 Kub, S-75 Dvina, S-125 Neva/Pechora, or Crotale SAM launches.
Within twelve minutes, all United States aircraft were "feet wet" outbound over the Mediterranean Sea. Navy strike aircraft had been recovered aboard their carriers by 02:53AM and surviving US Air Force planes, with the exception of one F-111F which landed in Rota, Andalusia with an overheated engine, had returned to Britain by 10:10AM.
Sadly, one F-111F, the 70-2389 callsign "Karma 52", was shot down by a Libyan ZSU-23-4 over the Gulf of Sidra. The two U.S. Air Force captains, Fernando L. Ribas-Dominicci (Pilot) and Paul F. Lorence (WSO) were killed.

 
High altitude at sunrise for this F-111F "Aardvark" with the 494 TFS colours
(USAFE via Coll Serge Van Heertum)
No comments needed... ...just little bit humour in dramatic mission
The April 5th, terrorist attack was the trigger of the El Dorado Canyon operation
(German news via Web DR)
The 24 F-111F aircraft had no clearance to fly over European territory
(USAFE archives)
Table with the 3 assigned targets devoted to the 48th TFW and the armament used for the operation
 
F-111F "Aardvark" involved in El Dorado Canyon Operation
 
70-2403 
70-2396
70-2363
70-2404

70-2371
70-2383
74-0177
70-2386

70-2413
70-2389
71-0889
70-2415
Callsign: ELTON 41
Callsign: ELTON 42
Callsign: ELTON 43
Callsign: ELTON 44

Callsign: JEWEL 61
Callsign: JEWEL 62
Callsign: JEWEL 63
Callsign: JEWEL 64

Callsign: KARMA 51
Callsign: KARMA 52 (Lost in action)
Callsign: KARMA 53
Callsign: KARMA 54
72-1449
71-0888
70-2387
70-2405

71-0893
70-2416
70-2394
73-0707

70-2390
72-1445
74-0178
70-2382
Callsign: LUJAC 21
Callsign: LUJAC 22
Callsign: LUJAC 23
Callsign: LUJAC 24

Callsign: PUFFY 11
Callsign: PUFFY 12
Callsign: PUFFY 13
Callsign: PUFFY 14

Callsign: REMIT 31
Callsign: REMIT 32
Callsign: REMIT 33
Callsign: REMIT 34
    
The night attack of Tripoli Airfield
(Artist view via Web DR)
Commemorative plate located near the 48th TFW hospital at Lakenheath
(USAFE media center©)
An image, a tribute to the Pilot and Weapon Systems Officer (WSO) lost in action during the night of the 14-15 of April 1986
(USAFE media center©)
  
Post Cold War (1991 - present)
Lakenheath received its first McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagles in 1992. With the departure of the F-111's, the 495th Fighter Squadron was deactivated on December 13th, 1991. On December 18th 1992, the last General Dynamics F-111 departed the base. Along with its departure, the 493rd FS was also deactivated.
With the pending closure of Bitburg Air Base in Germany on February 25th, 1994, it was decided to reactivate the 493rd FS as an F-15C/D squadron. Aircraft were transferred from the 33rd Fighter Wing of Eglin AFB in Florida, and the 493rd FS was officially reactivated on January 1st, 1995. The 493rd 's arrival meant that the 48th became the largest "Eagle" composite unit in the U.S. Air Force.
In 2003, the 48th FW received the first of ten new F-15E's. The aircraft were part of the final batch of F-15's expected to be ordered by the Air Force.
On March 22nd, 2011, F-15E "Strike Eagle" 91-0304 crash-landed and was destroyed in eastern Libya after reportedly suffering from a mechanical failure. Both crewmen ejected and were safely recovered. On January 7th, 2014, a Sikorsky HH-60 "Pave Hawk" from the base crashed following a bird strike while on a low-level training exercise with another helicopter, into the Cley Marshes near Cley next the Sea on the nearby North Norfolk coast. All four occupants died in the crash.
On October 8th, 2014, F-15D "Eagle" 86-0182 belonging to the 493rd Fighter Squadron crashed during a training flight in a field outside Spalding in the Lincolnshire county. The pilot successfully ejected and was recovered back to Lakenheath.
A visitor US Marine Corps Boeing F/A-18 Hornet from VMFA-232 "Red Devils" homebased at MCAS Miramar in California, crashed after taking off from RAF Lakenheath on October 21st, 2015. The pilot, Major Taj "Cabbie" Sareen did not survive the accident.
On June 15th, 2020, an F-15C belonging to the 493rd Fighter Squadron crashed during a training flight in the North Sea, 74 nautical miles east of Scarborough. Sadly the body of the pilot, 1st Lt. Kenneth Allen was found back but deceased.
The 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath is named "the Statue of Liberty Wing", the only USAF wing with both a number and a name. Since activation at Chaumont-Semoutiers AB, France, on July 10th, 1952, Liberty Wing has been one of the first fighter wings of the United States Air Forces in Europe, spending over 50 years as part of USAFE. The 48th FW has nearly 5700 active US military members, around 2000 British and U.S. civilians.

Tactical squadrons of the 48th Operations Group are:
492nd Fighter Squadron (F-15E) (Blue)
493rd Fighter Squadron (F-15C/D) (Yellow)
494th Fighter Squadron (F-15E) (Red)

Aircraft of the 48th FW are still carrying the famous "LN" tail code.
In addition to supporting three combat ready squadrons of F-15E "Strike Eagle" and F-15C/D "Eagle" fighter aircraft, the Liberty Wing housed also the 56th Rescue Squadron's HH-60G Combat Search and Rescue helicopter. But the 56th and 57th Rescue Squadrons are re-located to Aviano Airbase in Italy since 2018.
RAF Lakenheath and its sister base RAF Mildenhall are the two main U.S. Air Force bases in United Kingdom, and 48th Fighter Wing is the only U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter wing in Europe.
 
 
The 3 Lakenheath squadrons with special D-Day makings in 2019
(USAFE 48th TFW media©)
The Lakenheath fighters in company of a big brother in arm based at Mildenhall
(USAFE 48th TFW media©)
 
Future… F-35A Lightning II
In January 2015, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that around 2020, Lakenheath would become the home of 54 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II multi-role fighters. The aircraft would be split between two squadrons and there would be an increase of 1200 U.S. military personnel and between 60 and 100 civilian workers at the station.
The F-35A Lightning II are to operate alongside the two existing F-15E "Strike Eagle" squadrons based at Lakenheath. By November 2018, the number of F-35A aircraft had been revised to 48 and their arrival date is postponed to late 2021.
 
The short future for Lakenheath, the F-35A Lightning II
(USAF media DR©)
The number of 54 planes foreseen has been reduced to 48
(USAF media DR©)
 
 
RAF Lakenheath in action
March 2019
  
The F-100F "Super Sabre" as gate guardian
(Pierre Taquet©)
General view on the installations
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Loud and clear !
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Quite normal
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
One of the many shelters
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Lakenheath is a living base
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Sensitive material load
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Delicate transport
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Advanced Medium Range Air-To-Air Missile (AMRAAM) AIM-120D
(Serge Van Heertum©)
An airbase is also a natural site: Wild rabbit
(Anthony Graulus©)
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
(Anthony Graulus©)
And another one...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Rook raven (Corvus frugilegus)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Morning first wave
(Serge Van Heertum©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-51-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0314 494 TFS
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Last point check
(Serge Van Heertum©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-51-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0309 on taxi
(Serge Van Heertum©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-52-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0324
(Anthony Graulus©)
The 494 TFS quatuor ready for a bombing training mission
(Serge Van Heertum©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-51-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0313
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The Strike Eagle is in service for more than 30 years
(Anthony Graulus©)
Full AB for the 324
(Anthony Graulus©)
Take Off clearance for the 494 TFS flagship, note the bomb loading at rear
(Pierre Taquet©)
Power...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
...and lift off
(Serge Van Heertum©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle 86-0159
The only "C" model we could catch on this day
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Some more duty transport
(Serge Van Heertum©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-53-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-604
(Serge Van Heertum©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-52-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0329
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Boeing F-15E-63-MC Strike Eagle AF 00-3004
(Serge Van Heertum©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-58-MC Strike Eagle AF 96-0201
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Second wave of the day at the last check point
(Anthony Graulus©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-53-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-604
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Face to face with the bird of prey and the bomb load
(Serge Van Heertum©)
604 at take off
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Throttle forward!
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Take-off for an attack training mission
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The 201 at VR (rotation)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The third wave from 492 TFS this time
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Eagle ballet
(Serge Van Heertum©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-51-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0315
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Five elements of the 492 Tactical Fighter Squadron
(Anthony Graulus©)
Boeing F-15E-61-MC Strike Eagle AF 97-0222
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Impressive fighter, isn't it?
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Strike Eagle's taxiing
(Pierre Taquet©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-51-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0301
(Pierre Taquet©)
In the heat of double Pratt & Whitney F100-229
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Holding
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Eagle's beak
(Serge Van Heertum©)
High Viz helmet for this 492 TFS Weapon Systems Officer (WSO)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Luxurious BBQ
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Double exhaust
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The treble 2 got the taxi clerance
(Pierre Taquet©)
Go for take off
(Pierre Taquet©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-51-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0301
(Anthony Graulus©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-51-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0307
(Anthony Graulus©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-52-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0321 line up...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
...but back to parking due a technical problem. Flight cancelled
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Boeing F-15E-61-MC Strike Eagle AF 97-0220
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Eagle driver
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Taxi clearance to join the holding point
(Serge Van Heertum©)
"Miss Liberty" patch on the sleeve
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Pilot and WSO, total trust in each other
(Serge Van Heertum©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-51-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0315
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The eagle has flown
(Serge Van Heertum©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-51-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0303
(Serge Van Heertum©)
First wave of the morning is back to homebase
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The 494 Tactical Fighter Squadron flagship is back
(Serge Van Heertum©)
309 at landing
(Pierre Taquet©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-51-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0313
(Pierre Taquet©)
Pilot and WSO close up
(Serge Van Heertum©)
A little bit rubber on the runway
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Passion when you hold us!
(Serge Van Heertum©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-53-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0604
(Pierre Taquet©)
Few seconds before the touch
(Serge Van Heertum©)
At landing in the so typical english countryside
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Short final for the 201
(Pierre Taquet©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-58-MC Strike Eagle AF 96-0201
(Anthony Graulus©)
201 close up
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Big airbrake !
(Serge Van Heertum©)
492 TFS back home
(Serge Van Heertum©)
From downwind to final
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Short final for the 220
(Pierre Taquet©)
Boeing F-15E-61-MC Strike Eagle AF 97-0220
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Rear view at landing
(Pierre Taquet©)
Last final for the 97-0220
(Pierre Taquet©)
Underside details with:
AN/AAQ-14 targeting pod (Left side)
AN/AAQ-13 LANTIRN navigation pod (Right side)
(Pierre Taquet©)
Triple two in final
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Go around for the 222
(Pierre Taquet©)
Splendid machine
(Pierre Taquet©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-51-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0306
(Pierre Taquet©)
Another wave is launched...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The 306 full AB for another mission
(Pierre Taquet©)
little jet wash...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-51-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0303
(Serge Van Heertum©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-51-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0309 last check
(Serge Van Heertum©)
A real war machine
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Short final and back to base
(Serge Van Heertum©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-51-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0302
(Serge Van Heertum©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-62-MC Strike Eagle AF 98-0131
(Serge Van Heertum©)
494 TFS back on duty
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Clear view on the AN/ALQ-188 Electronic Attack Training Pod
(Serge Van Heertum©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-51-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0303
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Tactical break
(Serge Van Heertum©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-52-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0329
(Anthony Graulus©)
Sunset colours on the "Black Panthers" flagship aircraft
(Anthony Graulus©)
329 gear up for a go around
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Nice evening light
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Another go around for the AF 91-0329, just for eye pleasure
(Anthony Graulus©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-51-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0313
(Pierre Taquet©)
313 close up
(Pierre Taquet©)
Go around and sun light effects
(Serge Van Heertum©)
A last pass for the 329
(Serge Van Heertum©)
329 "Deadpool" on landing
(Serge Van Heertum©)
AF 91-0314 landing to conclude the training day
(Serge Van Heertum©)
  
  
RAF Lakenheath in action
July 2020
 
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-58-MC Strike Eagle AF 96-0201, the 48 Tactical Fighter Wing flagship (Base commander aircraft)
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15C-42-MC Eagle AF 86-0175
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Boeing F-15E-64-MC Strike Eagle AF 01-2003
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15C-41-MC Eagle AF 86-0154
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
154 nose close up 
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15C-37-MC Eagle AF 84-0010 with D-Day special paint
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15C-37-MC Eagle AF 84-0001
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Eagle and Strike Eagle mix
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Both crew are from the 494th TFS "Black Panthers"
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
The Wing flagship waiting the clearance
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
One of the 3 special paint made for the 65 years D-Day commemorations
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
This aircraft shot down Iran AF Su-22M with AIM-9M on March 22nd, 1991
(Patrick Brouckaert©)

Nicknamed "The King" in memory of Lt Col Royal "King" Baker who became commander of the 493rd in November 1943, flew a total of 523 hours on 272 combat missions. He was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action, an oak leaf cluster to the Distinguished Flying Cross, and was credited during World War II for the destruction of three enemy aircraft, one shared destruction and one probable.
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15E-52-MC Strike Eagle AF 91-0331
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Second mission for the F-15C-41-MC Eagle AF 86-0154
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Waiting for clearance
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15C-37-MC Eagle AF 84-0001
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
AF 91-0331 on taxi
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Note the 3 squadron logo weared by the AF 96-0201
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Clear for take off
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
When the "E" meet the "C"
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15C-41-MC Eagle AF 86-0156
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Strike Eagle close up
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Boeing F-15E-64-MC Strike Eagle AF 01-2000
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15C-42-MC Eagle AF 86-0172
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Serious jet wash
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Boeing F-15E-63-MC Strike Eagle AF 00-3004
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Do you have light please?
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
AF 86-0163 is back to homebase
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15D-37-MC Eagle AF 84-0044
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Strike Eagle AF 01-2000 back home
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Beautiful bird
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
AF 84-0001 on final
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
"LN" code for RAF Lakenheath
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Close up on a "C" model
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15C-41-MC Eagle AF 86-0156 was flown by Capt Jeffrey "Claw" Hwang from 493rd FS on March 26th, 1999 when he shot down two 
Yugoslav Air Force MiG-29s with a pair of AIM-120 AMRAAM during Operation Allied Force. Mig 18113 was shot down near Loznica, crashed in Bosnia and pilot capt. Zoran Radoslavljevic was killed. Mig 18114 was shot down near Bijeljina, crashed in Bosnia and pilot Major Slobodan Peric ejected safely. With help of local Serbs, he managed to avoid a capture by NATO forces and escapes back.
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
McDonnell Douglas F-15C-42-MC Eagle AF 86-0172
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Some more of the AF 84-0010
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
"The King" in action
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Stripes for freedom
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Final turn...
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
...and landing
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Boeing F-15E-61-MC Strike Eagle AF 97-0221
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Note the Northrop Grumman AN/ASQ-236 Radar Pod on the center line
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
AF 91-0301 making a last correction before landing
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
 

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