U.S. B-1B, F-15s And British F-35 Formed Up Over The UK To Celebrate The 80th Anniversary Of The 8th Air Force

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The formation approaching RAF Mildenhall during the flypast to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Eighth Air Force on Feb. 1, 2022. (All images: Stewart Jack)

A flypast celebrated the 80th anniversary of the forming of the “Mighty” Eighth Air Force.

On Feb. 1, 2022, a B-1B Lancer (#86-0129) with the 28th Bomb Wing from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota; 2x F-15E Strike Eagles (#91-0301 and #00-3004) from the 494th Fighter Squadron from RAF Lakenheath, and an F-35B Lightning (ZM158/024) belonging to the RAF 207 Sqn from RAF Marham, accompanied by an RAF Hawk (XX191) camera ship, celebrated the 80th anniversary of the 8th Air Force.

Flying as OXRAY flight, the BONEs (as the B-1s are dubbed in the pilot community) undertook a roundtrip mission to the UK from their homebase in South Dakota. In the end, just one of the three Lancers (one was an air spare) completed the transatlantic crossing.

“OXRAY11” leading the formation during the flypast.

The only Lancer that crossed the Pond was supported by two KC-135 Stratotankers, LAGR902 (#59-1470) and LAGR903 (#59-1475), launched from RAF Mildenhall. The tankers met the bomber at waypoint AKIVO, South West of the Faroe Islands.

The B-1 flew with the rest of the “dissimilar formation” over the Imperial War Museum Duxford, the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial (a World War II American military war grave cemetery) at Madingley in Cambridgeshire, UK, as well as RAF Marham in Norfolk, RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall, in Suffolk.

The photos in this post were taken by our contributor Stewart Jack at RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall.

The RAF 207th Sqn F-35B and the two F-15Es.

VIII Bomber Command activated at Langley Field, Va, on Feb. 1, 1942, and moved to England under its parent unit Eighth Air Force. During WWII, using the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator, the unit carried out heavy bombardment missions across Europe.

Today, the Eighth Air Force is one of two active-duty Numbered Air Forces in Air Force Global Strike Command with headquarters at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, that controls long-range conventional strike and nuclear-capable bomber assets worldwide, and commands the National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC) platform.

The B-1B Lancer during the flyover at RAF Lakenheath.

In other words, the 8th Air Force controls the B-1, B-2, and B-52 bombers and the E-4B aircraft.

The two Strike Eagles from the 494th Fighter Squadron.

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.

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