Twelve F-22 Raptors from the 95th Fighter Squadron ‘Boneheads’ along with pilots from both the 95th and 301st Fighter Squadrons, operating under the banner of the 95th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS), and supplemented by approximately 220 personnel from Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB), Florida undertook a month-long deployment to RAF Lakenheath during April 2016.
This historic deployment was the largest F-22 Raptor deployment in Europe to date and was part of their Global Response Force training.
The aircraft arrived over the space of a week in three flights of four. The first batch of four arrived under the callsigns TABOR 41/42/43/44 with a single KC-10A calling CLEAN61 on April 11. Of note was the fact that these four jets were not carrying external fuel tanks leading to speculation that this may have a test of the ‘Rapid Raptor’ deployment capability.
While at RAF Lakenheath, the F-22s participated in Exercise Iron Hand 16-3, conducted air training with all three 48th Wing fighter squadrons and Typhoons from RAF Coningsby. The F-22 Raptors also forward deployed to Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania as well as Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania – both of which are NATO allies – and participated in the commemoration of the centenary celebrations of the Lafayette Escadrille in Paris. The F-22s even took the opportunity to fly the Mach Loop in Wales and experience flying at low-level, something that isn’t really possible at their home base in Florida. RAF Lakenheath assets weren’t the only UK based USAF units to support the deployment with the 100th ARW (Air Refueling Wing) based just down the road at RAF Mildenhall providing tanker support for both local missions and the European forward deployments.
Along with the images of the Raptors are Lakenheath first, the F15's
I went along on 26th April, the day a raptor 'did the Loop'... the weather was crazy, bright sunshine, hail, snow, rain, it was incredible...