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Some more Lakenheath pictures

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Hi gents,


Some more pics from the last two days as I managed to book a couple of days, although when I did that the weather forecast was a lot better than how it turned out. A few changes here since the last visit. The 493rd F-15Cs are now history, all flyers have now returned to the US and look as if they're being split up amongst the various ANG units. 84-0001 has stayed here, and theories range from it being used as a maintenance trainer to replacing the F-15A (a model that never flew from here) that is currently on the pole near the main gate. The 495th FS's complement is now up to nine F-35As after the last two arrived a couple of weeks ago. They're still going to need to accelerate that if they intend to meet the stated intention of all 27 jets on strength by the third quarter of this year. This week has been a 'surge' week with them cycling the jets through the hot pits and launching them again quickly - this obviously applies to the F-15s rather than the F-35s although they do hot pit as well. Some of the F-15Es had completed three sorties by 11:00 local yesterday. My intention was to try and get the two new F-35s on the camera as both have extra markings, rather surprisingly had that in the bag within the first couple of hours yesterday!




Nice acknowledgement from the cockpit. 




19-5493 is one of the two new arrivals, and has obviously been marked for the 493th FS, despite the Reapers not reforming on the F-35 until after the 495th is ready. Looks like Lakenheath grabbed the jet seeing the serial and the 495th will operate it until it is handed over to the 493rd. Note the additional logo for the Reapers on the fin.




The Valkyrie's of the 495th had to have 19-5495 at the same time!






The F-35s have a party trick that appears to be unique to them. The usual visual circuit at Lakenheath off runway 24 is a left turn to the South away from the town of Brandon, over the rest of the base. I've noticed this now a few times since I've been watching the '35s; vertical climb off the far/departure end and rolling off at the top directly over the field at several thousand feet, heading back downwind. Once about a mile or so down range at the 24/approach end they will descend sharply and turn in tight from the South side at the same time. The F-15s don't do it and I can't see why a lightly loaded F-15 could not, they pull vertical on departure quite often, when presumably heavy. It makes for a quite spectacular pic as they're nose down and turning left until the runway threshold, usually with a load of vapour. 3 and 4 did it today;












492nd flagship now has the sqn name on the fin stripe




'Bane' from the 494th, new one on me - Batman reference?



Second F-35 sortie after the hot pits was pretty much a bust as they caught the cloud on return, only the No 4 missed it at the end. When I was looking at this image something new suddenly struck me - no radar reflectors! I quickly checked the other pics of all four ships flown today and none had them fitted. The two marked jets are brand new, only having been delivered a couple of weeks ago but they were fitted on arrival, and I've photographed the other jets with them fitted as well. Interesting as they virtually always carry them, even when operating in a potential war zone.




This mornings offering was mostly lost to cloud, despite the forecast of 'hardly a cloud in the sky' as late as last night! A few that caught the gaps.


Needs some paint.






Bolar wizzo in '329 is enjoying the attention!







Haven't seen the nose art on this one before, pity it weren't up yesterday.





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Great shots and observations, Gary. 
I was out at Hill AFB in Utah last week. Noticed the same thing about many of their F-35s. The lack of Luneburg Lenses on the jets. Some did still have them, but more than most did not. 

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1 hour ago, ST0RM said:

I was out at Hill AFB in Utah last week. Noticed the same thing about many of their F-35s. The lack of Luneburg Lenses on the jets. Some did still have them, but more than most did not. 


Makes me wonder if they have internalized the functionality - no more "strap-ons"....

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Thanks for that. I am curious about the reflectors as I've never seen them missing before on routine flights, so maybe, as said above their may now be a fleet wide plan to remove them. I'll keep a eye out for other operators F-35 pics taken recently to see what happens there. I have seen some pics taken at Lakenheath by others on 10th May that show the same aircraft I photographed without reflectors, but a couple of others that were not out last Thursday/Friday that were still fitted. May be coincidence but those jets had the outboard AAM rails fitted, something I haven't seen yet.



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