Exercise High Life

19/09/2021

The 3rd of 4 Agile Combat Employment (ACE) exercises for 2021 once again involved aircraft and aircrews based at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk. Across the day on Monday 13th September 2021, a total of 8 aircraft arrived into RAF Fairford. The somewhat unexpected arrival came in the form of a USAF Boeing RC-135W Rivet Joint, which landed at Fairford after its Eastern European tasking. 

Throughout the week, the deployed aircraft operated from Fairford flying the same sort of sorties and missions as they would from their home base.

The deployed KC-135s swapped out during the week, with 59-1470 departing on Tuesday 14th, and being replaced the same day by 58-0100. On Wednesday 15th, 60-0335 arrived as QID33, bringing the deployed Stratotanker numbers up to 4. All 4 departed on sorties on Thursday 16th and returned to RAF Mildenhall. 

The RC-135 flew a sortie on Wednesday 15th and returned back to Fairford. It flew another on Friday 17th but returned back to RAF Mildenhall. 

The Special Operations Squadron aircraft also departed on the 17th. Their first sortie actually came on the 17th, when both the MC-130Js and CV-22s departed between 10:45 and 13:30. The CV-22s headed back to Mildenhall and the MC-130s returned to Fairford. One Commando had flown to Mildenhall during the day to pick up equipment to fix a broken aircraft. I was present at Fairford for the evening departures of the MC-130s. Due to the aforementioned tech issues, it was said that if they couldn't fix the broken herc, then a singleton would return to Mildenhall. They did get it going and STRIX77 flight of 2 taxied to 09 and departed for Mildenhall. A nice sight to round off an even nicer deployment, even if the aircraft did come from just up the road.

With credit to and help from The Official Fighter Control Website and The RAF Fairford Movements Blog, here is the full list of aircraft involved in Exercise High Life:

USAF Bell-Boeing CV-22B Osprey 10-0052 - 7th Special Operations Squadron - 352nd Special Operations Squadron

USAF Bell-Boeing CV-22B Osprey 10-0053 - 7th Special Operations Squadron - 352nd Special Operations Squadron

USAF Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker 58-0100 - 351st Air Refuelling Squadron - 100th Air Refuelling Wing

USAF Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker 59-1464 - 351st Air Refuelling Squadron - 100th Air Refuelling Wing

USAF Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker 59-1470 - 351st Air Refuelling Squadron - 100th Air Refuelling Wing

USAF Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker 60-0355  - 351st Air Refuelling Squadron - 100th Air Refuelling Wing

USAF Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker 63-8008 - 351st Air Refuelling Squadron - 100th Air Refuelling Wing

USAF Lockheed Martin MC-130J Commando II 09-6207 - 67th Special Operations Squadron - 352nd Special Operations Squadron

USAF Lockheed Martin MC-130J Commando II 12-5759 - 67th Special Operations Squadron - 352nd Special Operations Squadron

USAF Boeing RC-135W Rivet Joint 62-4126 - 38th Reconnaissance Squadron - 55th Wing