389th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron heads for home 

11/04/2023

On April 11th, 2023, 9 McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagles from the 389th Fighter Squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho arrived into RAF Lakenheath on their home from a 6-month deployment to USAF Central Commands area of responsibility. Squadrons deployed to the Middle East tend to rotate every 6 months. It appears that these Strike Eagles have been replaced down range by a number of A-10 Warthogs. Whilst in Asia, the aircraft have the chance to integrate with allied nations and, should it be necessary, deal with enemy threats such as the Taliban. This constant fast jet presence helps to deter any aggression from 'enemy' nations.

9, however, was not the same out amount that had transited through Suffolk 6 months prior whilst heading downrange. October of 2022 had seen 12 Mountain Home F-15Es arrive into Mildenhall on their way out. It wasn't until April 15th that the next 2 aircraft arrived into Lakenheath. 

2 Boeing KC-46A Pegasus aircraft were flown to Lakenheath on April 12th to drag the jets back to Idaho. The aircraft were sent into the hold over Norfolk for an hour whilst the 48th Fighter Wing jets returned to base and the cables were de-rigged. The cables were only a problem at the end of runway 06 as the aircraft were unable to taxi over them! 

Various delays meant that the first 6 jets departed on April 15th accompanied by 1 of the aforementioned KC-46s and a KC-135 out of Prestwick Airport in Scotland. The next 4 departed on April 18th alongside the other KC-46 and another KC-135, which launched out of RAF Mildenhall.

When writing this, jet number 12 (87-0207) has still not arrived in the UK.

It was great to finally catch some US-based F-15s, albeit not in the best lighting! And the KC-46s were also a fantastic bonus to catch at Lakenheath, I believe these were the first Pegasus aircraft to visit Lakenheath. 

TABOR71 flight of 5 in the overhead at RAF Lakenheath

TABOR81 flight overhead RAF Lakenheath. TABOR81 can be seen already breaking from the formation as they pass the viewing area

USAF McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle 87-0173 TABOR71

USAF McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle 87-0183 TABOR72

USAF McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle 87-0198 TABOR81

USAF McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle 87-0202 TABOR82

USAF McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle 87-0209 TABOR74

USAF McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle 87-0210 TABOR83

USAF McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle 88-1678 TABOR83

USAF McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle 88-1699 TABOR84

USAF McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle 90-0227 TABOR75

USAF Boeing KC-46A Pegasus 15-46070 RCH054

USAF Boeing KC-46A Pegasus 17-46026 RCH064