Tag: 48th Fighter Wing

48th Fighter Wing’s New Heritage F-15E Pays Visit To Mach Loop Before Arriving At RAF Fairford

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The Heritage F-15E flying flying

with the Mach Loop on Jul. 14, 2022 (Simon Pearson-Cougill ). In package, the airplane touchdown at RAF Fairford( Stewart Jack) Here are some fascinating shots of the brand-new Heritage F-15E Strike Eagle. The U.S. Air Force 48th Fighter Wing simply introduced a brand-new heritage F-15E Strike Eagle to commemorate the Wing’s 70th year of trip procedures, along with the USAFE’s 80th wedding anniversary and also the Air Force’s 75th wedding anniversary. The jet was formally revealed at RAF Lakenheath on July 12, 2022, as well as on July 14 flew with thepopular Mach Loop in the Low Flying Area (LFA) 7, prior to touchdown at RAF Fairford for this year’s Royal International Air Tattoo.”We have actually repainted an F-15E with an unique paint plan to commemorate the abundant background of Liberty Pilots, Maintainers, as well as all Airmen of the 48 FW “, claimed the 48th FW on social media sites.”Additionally, the paint system is based upon the Skyblazers airborne demo group from the 1950’s and also 60’s, recognizing an item of USAFE’s 80-year background.”

Another shot of the Heritage F-15E in the Mach Loop on Jul. 14, 2022(Simon Pearson-Cougill)The airplane concerned is the F-15E with identification number 92-0364, appointed to the 492nd Fighter Squadron(492nd FS), nicknamed”the Bolars”as well as”the Madhatters “. The Strike Eagle landed at Fairford at around noontime, with the callsign STRIKE31 as well as accompanied by a F-35A of the 495th Fighter Squadron” the Valkyries”, after a fast air to air photo session. As you can see in the images right here in this tale, the F-15E has actually been repainted with the United States flag’s shades on the trip as well as the nose surface areas. The internal sides of the twin tails reveal the logo design for the USAFE’s 80th wedding anniversary, while the external sides reveal the logo design for the 48th FW wedding anniversary. Particularly, you can see the Statue of Liberty, which is the sign of the system and also as a result understood additionally as the” Liberty Wing “, bordered by the forms of the airplane that offered within the device. A larger recreation of the Statue of Liberty is located additionally on the rate brake, come with by the form of the United Kingdom, which organizes the device considering that the 1960s, in addition to the United States as well as UK flags. The 48th FW was initial developed in 1952 at Chaumont-Semoutiers Air Base, France, and also designated the 492d,

493d, as well as 494th Fighter Squadrons. Just in 1960, when French President Charles de Gaulle required the elimination of NATO pressures from the nation, the device transferred to RAF Lakenheath, which at the time was a vacant Strategic Air Command hefty bombing plane base. Currently, as the Liberty Wing is transitioning right into the future, the F-15Cs have actuallybeen switched for new F-35As as well as designated both to the 493rd FS “Grim Reapers”and also the lately reactivated 495th FS”Valkyries “. The system is not brand-new to these type of heritage jets, with some fantastic instances seen for the 75th wedding anniversary of Operation Overlord, when each armada repainted a jet in heritage shades for the celebration. The heritage F-15E as it lands before the crows at RAF Fairford. (Photo: Stewart Jack) About Stefano D’Urso Stefano D’Urso is an independent reporter and also factor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A grad in Industral Engineering he’s additionally examining to accomplish a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Digital Warfare, Loitering Munitions as well as OSINT strategies put on the globe of present disputes and also armed forces procedures are amongst his locations of competence.

493rd and 495th Fighter Squadrons Have Received Their Flagship F-35A Aircraft

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F-35 flagships
The flagships of the 493rd and 495th Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath. (All images: Martin Fox)

The commanders’ jets are the latest additions to the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath.

At around 18.00LT on Friday Apr. 15, 2022, two F-35A aircraft, both sporting the squadron commander markings for the 493rd Fighter Squadron ‘Reapers’ and 495th Fighter Squadron ‘Valkyries’ landed at RAF Lakenheath, UK. The two aircraft in question, coming from Lockheed Martin’s facility in Fort Worth, Texas, where they were spotted during the test flights preceding the delivery are the airframes 19-5493 and 19-5495.

According to our contributor Martin Fox, who was at the base home of the 48th Fighter Wing, and took the photographs of the aircraft as they arrived at their new airfield, these jets had tried to make the transatlantic crossing for at least two weeks but had suffered delays caused by tanker issues and unfavourable weather over the Atlantic. For the ferry flight, the new flagship aircraft were supported by KC-135R, serial 62-3502, belonging to the 22nd ARW (Air Refueling Wing), from McConnell Air Force Base, Texas, which also arrived at RAF Lakenheath as RAF Mildenhall was closed for Good Friday holiday. Unfortunately for the tanker crew, after the long crossing, the Stratotanker had to hold for around an hour before landing as the runways cables needed to be de-rigged once the fighters had safely landed.

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The “Grim Reapers” flagship

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The “Grim Reapers” flagship

As we have already explained in a previous post, the “Grim Reapers” will become the second Europe-based U.S. F-35 squadron, following their colleagues of the 495th FS “Valkyries”, which received the first F-35s in December 2021. This way, RAF Lakenheath will have two F-15E Strike Eagle squadrons, the 492nd FS “Bolars” and the 494th FS “Panthers”, and two F-35A squadrons, the 493rd FS “Grim Reapers” and the 495th FS “Valkyries”. Each squadron will operate with at least two dozen F-35s.

The flagship aircraft of the 493rd FS, with serial 19-5493/AF-321, will probably operate with the 495th until the Reapers start to re-equip with the F-35A in the future. The “Grim Reapers” were the last to fly the “legacy” Eagles in Europe after more than 45 years of F-15A/B/C/D Eagle operations in the Old Continent. They completed their NATO enhanced Air Policing mission at Łask Air Base, Poland, on Feb. 28, 2022.

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The flagship of the 495th FS “Valkyries”.

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The flagship of the 495th FS “Valkyries”.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

RAF Lakenheath Has Become The First Base in Europe To Receive U.S. Air Force F-35s

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One of first four F-35A jets landing at RAF Lakenheath on Dec. 15, 2021. (All images: Stewart Jack)

The first F-35A aircraft of the newly formed 495th Fighter Squadron have arrived in the UK.

Four F-35A aircraft departed from Fort Worth, Texas, arrived at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, on Dec. 15, 2021, marking the arrival of the first Europe-based USAF’s Lightning II 5th generation.

Flying as RETRO 31-34 and supported by BLUE81, a KC-135R #59-1495, and BLUE82, a KC-10A Extender #84-0189, the four aircraft (#19-5473, #19-5474, #19-5475 and #19-5476) approached RAF Lakenheath as a 4 ship at 13.50L before braking off and then all of them carrying out a missed approached before landing on RWY24.


As you can notice in the shots taken by The Aviationist‘s contributor Stewart Jack, the aircraft sport the 495th Fighter Squadron emblem on the air intake as well as the LN code, the shield of United States Air Forces in Europe as well as the motto “Mala Ipsa Nova” (Latin for “Bad News Itself”) on the twin tails. The 495th FS “Valkyries” is the first Europe-based U.S. F-35 squadron: it was re-activated on Oct. 1, 2021, at a specific, symbolic time, 8:49 and 50 second, that is to say exactly 30 years since the former 495th Tactical Fighter Squadron was redesignated as Fighter Squadron, shortly before being inactivated in 1991.

Close up showing the emblem on the air intake.
The tail section.

The 495th Fighter Squadron is scheduled to be fully mission capable in 2022 with a total of 27 aircraft and 60 personnel.

RETRO 31-34 approaching the overhead break.

“Our coalition forces train and fight in the most dynamic theater, requiring the most advanced platforms,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa commander in a public release. “The Valkyries are leading our F-35 integration across Europe. We’ve come a long way, and now we’re extending our reach as a coalition force and what we will accomplish together.”

On short final for landing.

“‘Valkyries’ epitomizes the force’s move toward more inclusivity and equally represents the fifth-generation stealth fighter’s air superiority,” said Lt. Col. Ian McLaughlin, 495th Fighter Squadron commander. “Like the Valkyries themselves, we’ll be vital to determining the fate of our adversaries in the battlespace.”

Before they touched down at RAF Lakenheath, all the F-35s performed a go around.

U.S. Air Force Officially Activates 495th Fighter Squadron At RAF Lakenheath

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F-35 Valkyries
Here is how the future 495th Fighter Squadron’s flagship F-35A might look like. (Original photo by U.S. Air Force  Master Sgt. Eric Burks, edited by Stefano D’Urso/The Aviationist)

The “Valkyries” will be the first Europe-based USAF F-35 squadron, with the first aircraft expected to arrive at their new home later this year.

During an official ceremony at RAF Lakenheath on October 1, 2021, the U.S. Air Force in Europe reactivated the 495th Fighter Squadron as part of the 48th Fighter Wing. The press release mentions that the unit was activated at a specific, symbolic time, 8:49 and 50 second, which is exactly 30 years since the former 495th Tactical Fighter Squadron was redesignated as Fighter Squadron, shortly before its inactivation and the retirement of the F-111F Aardvark at RAF Lakenheath in 1991.

Last year, before the reactivation, it was decided to change the squadron’s historic nickname, the “Thundervarks”, to better fit its new ride, the F-35A Lightning II 5th gen aircraft. The 48th FW crowdsourced the new name, with over 700 different suggestions, with resulted in five finalists. Ultimately, “Valkyries” was chosen as the new nickname, while the unit’s motto remains the one of the 495th TFS.

“In Norse mythology, Valkyries are female figures who choose those that will live, or die, in battle,” the 48th Wing statement said. “RAF Lakenheath is in the East of England, an area with extensive Viking and Norse history.  Additionally, the 495th Fighter Squadron motto: “Mala Ipsa Nova” in Latin, means “Bad News Itself”. Both factors emphasize “Valkyries” as an extremely suitable nickname for the U.K.-based unit.”

Lt. Col. Ian D. McLaughlin has assumed command as the first commander since the squadron’s inactivation in 1991.   “Today is an exciting day. There has been a great deal of work done to get us this far, but there’s a lot more that needs to be done prior to getting jets this winter. The 495th has a proud history and we’re excited to take the guidon forward to start building the foundation for first USAF F-35As stationed in Europe.”

Among the guest who attended the ceremony there were some members of the original 495th TFS, including retired U.S. Air Force Col. James “Rusty” Russell, former 495th Fighter Squadron commander, who deactivated the squadron on December 13, 1991. In a symbolic handover, Col. Russell unfurled the squadron’s guidon and passed it to Col. Sean Lowe, 48th Operations Group commander, which then passed it to Lt. Col. McLaughlin as he assumed command. “I’m ecstatic about this,” said Russell. “I’m so pleased to represent the F-111 community that was here originally, and we are deeply appreciative of being able to witness and be a part of this today.”

File photo of two F-35As and two F-15Cs waiting at the end of the runway at RAF Lakenheath prior to a training sortie. (U.S. Air Force photo/Micah Garbarino)

The Valkyries do not currently own any aircraft, with the first F-35s scheduled to be delivered to Lakenheath by the end of the year, supposedly in December. The exact date is unknown, but initially the F-35 Demo Team reserved a date to be determined for an exhibition in December at RAF Lakenheath, which supposedly should have coincided with the delivery of the first aircraft, before it was removed during the summer.

An image released by the Air Force in April showed the forward fuselage section of the first aircraft to be assigned to Lakenheath, ready to begin the assembly process on the production line in Fort Worth (Texas) during a visit of Gen. Tod D. Wolters, commander of the U.S. European Command and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe. The aircraft has been identified with the serial 19-5474 (c/n AF-302).The 495th Fighter Squadron is scheduled to be fully mission capable in 2022 with a total of 27 aircraft and 60 personnel.

With the introduction of the F-35A, the 495th FS will step the 48th Fighter Wing and USAFE into the 5th generation of air power advancing multi-domain capabilities and air superiority, according to the press release. “The 495th Fighter Squadron represents a huge step in refining interoperability,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander. “We’ve already started exercising these capabilities with our partners who have F-35s in theater, so we’ll be ready to get after it when the new aircraft arrive in December.”

As we already reported in the past here at The Aviationist, the F-35s have already deployed to Lakenheath in the recent past. In fact, F-35s deployed multiple times there since 2017 to train in Europe and allow pilots and maintainers to learn more about the European operating environment, as well as improving the interoperability with partners in the region. The presence of the F-35 during these deployments also allowed to test the infrastructure and support before the aircraft is permanently assigned to the British base.

The 495th FS will be joined later by another F-35 squadron, as the DoD said that, with the reorganization of the U.S. Air Force units across Europe, two squadrons with 24 F-35s each would be based at RAF Lakenheath. Lakenheath is the perfect base for the perfect weapon system in the perfect country,” said Col. Robert Novotny, 48th Fighter Wing commander in press release published on the Air Force website back then. The second F-35 has not been identified yet however, according to some sources, the “Grim Reapers” of the 493rd FS might trade their F-15Cs for the F-35, and Lakenheath would become home of two F-35 squadrons and two F-15E squadrons.

Stefano D’Urso is a contributor for TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. He’s a full-time engineering student and aspiring pilot. In his spare time he’s also an amateur aviation photographer and flight simulation enthusiast.

493rd Fighter Squadron Awarded The 2019 Raytheon Trophy as USAF’s Top Air Superiority Squadron

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An F-15C Eagle assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron taxis on the flightline in support of exercise Point Blank 19-8 at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Nov. 14, 2019 The purpose of Point Blank is to exercise large force capabilities that incorporate current and future wartime scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Madeline Herzog)

The U.S. Air Force 493rd Fighter Squadron “Grim Reapers”, the only F-15C squadron in Europe, has been recognized the 2019 Raytheon Trophy as top Air Superiority Squadron. The announcement represents the sixth time the Reapers win the trophy since it was established in 1953 and the fourth straight year that the trophy is awarded to one of the 48th Fighter Wing’s squadrons, based at RAF Lakenheath, UK.

The latest editions were awarded to the Reapers in 2016, to the “Bolars” of the 492nd FS in 2017 and to the “Panthers” of the 494th FS in 2018. It’s worth noting that the Bolars and the Panthers fly the F-15E Strike Eagle.

The Raytheon Trophy is awarded annually to the top air-superiority and air-defense squadron in the Air Force. Nominees are graded on air-defense and air-superiority mission performance, operational mission performance, organizational readiness inspection results, training exercise participation, unit and individual achievements and flight safety.

The trophy was instituted by the Hughes Aircraft Company in 1953 as Hughes Achievement Award and became soon known as the highest Air Force award for air defense units. The award changed name in Raytheon Trophy or Raytheon Achievement Award in 1997 after Raytheon bought part of Hughes’ defense business.

File photo of the 2016 edition of the Raytheon trophy presented to the 493rd Fighter Squadron during a celebration at the Duxford Imperial War Museum, England, May 13, 2017. The 493rd FS received the trophy as the U.S. Air Force’s top fighter squadron, and previously won the award in 1997, 1999, 2007 and 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Emerson Nuñez)

Initially, only Fighter Interceptor Squadrons were allowed to participate. In 1970 the competition was opened to any squadron performing air defense as their primary mission and finally, a few years ago, was opened to all fighter squadrons. The first editions of the award used different trophies every year. Since 1963 the hand-hammered silver trophy is retained for one year by the winner and is then passed on to the next one.

During the recent years, F-15 squadrons often celebrated the award with spectacular videos of their flight operations, giving aviation lovers all over the world a glimpse in their everyday life as they train with the mighty Eagle.