UK

RAF Lakenheath: US Air Force Begins Intensive Flying Over East Anglia

The "surge" operation will involve F-15 jets being flown as part of ongoing training for pilots and support personnel.

Residents living near RAF Lakenheath in East Anglia have been warned to expect increased activity by the US Air Force's 48th Fighter Wing from today. 

The unit, also known as the Liberty Wing, will be carrying out training from 11 to 13 August. 

A statement from the Suffolk base said there were no plans for any low-altitude flying, and that there will no longer be any night flying.

The "surge" operations, or short periods of increased flying, will enable F-15 aircrew and support personnel on the ground to carry out a number of training requirements.

The extra flights are deemed necessary to ensure a ready and capable force. Colonel Jason Camilletti, 48th Fighter Wing Commander, said:

"The purpose of the surge is really to exercise the entire muscle of our flying operation."

He said a "maximum number of sorties" will be flown over three days, to see if maintenance and logistical systems can "keep pace".

"We acknowledge the disturbance this vital training may cause for some residents and greatly appreciate your support and understanding," Colonel Camilletti added.

"As always, we will do everything we can to minimise impact to our local communities while balancing the requirement that the Liberty Wing remains trained and ready to own the skies against any adversary."

RAF Lakenheath
The Suffolk base is expected to be hosting F-35 squadrons by next year (Picture: US Department of Defense).

Although a Royal Air Force station, Lakenheath hosts United States Air Force units and personnel

Demolition work began last year to prepare the base for the arrival of two squadrons of F-35 jets.

A total of 18 buildings were taken down to make way for construction of a flight simulator facility, a maintenance unit, new hangars and storage facilities.

The Lightning squadrons will arrive at the site in late 2021, with the airbase being the first permanent international site for US Air Force F-35s in Europe.

More than 1,000 personnel and their families will live at Lakenheath as part of the £160 million project.

Cover image: F-15E Strike Eagle takes off at RAF Lakenheath, May 2020 (Picture: US Air Force).