Lakenheath

Mark Ranger

Image Courtesy of Mark Ranger

RAF Lakenheath is home to the 48th Fighter Wing.

Early in January 1960, RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk was transformed into a fighter base when F-100 aircraft arrived, having been withdrawn from Semoutiers Air Base in France.
The Tactical Fighter Wing was made up of the following units.
492nd Tactical Fighter Squadron. LR Blue .
493rd Tactical Fighter Squadron. LS Yellow.
494th Tactical Fighter Squadron. LT Red

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Images courtesy of Phillip Dilley

In 1971 the transition from the F-100 to the McDonnell Douglas F-4D started. The conversion to the F-4D took several years, with the last F-100 departing in August 1974, In fact the F-4D airframes came from RAF Bentwaters and adopted an LK tail code which was shortly changed to LN , which is still used at the present time.

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Images courtesy of Don Gilham

The F-4Ds time at Lakenheath was short and it was soon announced that they would be replaced by the much more capable F111F aircraft. The first three F111F aircraft were delivered 1st March 1977 and by the end of June 1977, 92 examples had been delivered

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Image courtesy of Colin Collis

A fourth Squadron, the 495th Tactical Fighter Squadron, was activated with the 48th TFW on 1st April 1977 with the top of the fin coloured green. The 495th's mission was to function as a training unit for the other three fighter squadrons. This made the 495th and the 48th TFW unique, as the only WSO (Weapons System Operator) training unit for USAFE.

48th Fighter Wing
48th Fighter Wing

Images courtesy of Colin Collis

During 1992 the transition to the F-15 started with the last F111 leaving in December 1992, and for almost forty years the F-15E, F-15C and F-15D have worked side by side.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Thurtle

The 48th Fighter Wing Squadrons

The 492nd Fighter Squadron operate the F-15E Strike Eagle and are called The Bolars and The Madhatters.

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Images courtesy of Stuart Thurtle

The 493rd Fighter Squadron operates the F-15C/D single seat version and are called the Grim Reapers. Below the F-15C 86-0172 flown for the first time 18th January 2022 in the new paint scheme.

493

Image courtesy of Laura Ellis

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Images Courtesy of Steven Comber

Courtesy of Stewart Jack
Courtesy of Stewart Jack
Courtesy of Stewart Jack

Images courtesy of Stewart Jack

Reapers Low Level

Image courtesy of Dafydd Phillips

Image courtesy of Dafydd Phillips

Images courtesy of Chris Roche
Images courtesy of Chris Roche
Images courtesy of Chris Roche
Images courtesy of Chris Roche

Images courtesy of Chris Roche

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Images courtesy of Stuart Thurtle

The 494th Fighter Squadron operate the F-15E Strike Eagle and are called The Panthers.

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Images courtesy of Stuart Thurtle

After over 25 years at Lakenheath the aircraft are leaving and are being replaced with by the F-35A Lightning.

The HH-60G Pave Hawk

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Image courtesy of Mike Lintott-Danks

The HH-60G Pave Hawk Helicopters from the 56th Rescue Squadron arrived at RAF Lakenheath in 2006, and were located on the North side of the airfield and would remain there until the relocation to the Aviano air base in Italy, with the last three examples leaving in 2018.

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Images courtesy of Stuart Thurtle

The 56th Rescue Squadrons Pave Hawks main role is combat-ready search and rescue capable of executing all-weather missions day or night in hostile environments in support of USAFE, USEUCOM, and NATO operations. It employs a state-of-the-art communications and navigation system along with advanced search and rescue equipment.

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Images courtesy of Stuart Thurtle

The squadron is capable of deploying to any part of the world where it might be needed at very short notice, and to this day is still based at Aviano air base in Italy.

The 495th Fighter Squadron operate the F-35A Lightning II. and are called the Valkyres.

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Images courtesy of Stewart Jack

The Valkyres arrive at RAF Lakenheath.

The U.S. Air Force’s 495th Fighter Squadron based at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, has today 15th December 2021 received its first four F-35A Lightning aircraft.

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All images courtesy of Stewart Jack

RAF Lakenheath remains one of the largest military bases in the United Kingdom and also is used as a stop over point for aircraft being delivered to foreign air forces as well as USAF Squadrons deploying to the Middle East.