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More 48th FW F-15s and F-35s

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Hi Gents,


Here's another batch of pics from the RAF Lakenheath approach shot yesterday morning after the fog had cleared. Originally I wasn't planning a trip but booked the day off late on Monday due to feeling poorly after the Covid and flu injections, felt better late Monday, saw that Tuesday was going to be a sunny Autumn day so decided not to waste it. All standard resident F-15E and F-35As, with about 25 sorties in a three hour spell, all AM. 


F-15s first, and both the 492nd and 494th are currently back home - no specially marked up jet I'm afraid!








Fair amount of moisture about in the air so some nice trails.








No idea on the reference on the name - is it something a Brit wouldn't get?






Slightly wider shot from where I am, in the middle of a disused field, looking back towards the fence and a few other fellow photographers standing beside the road that runs alongside the fence at the Eastern end. Whilst it's quite easy to get decent pics from the roadside, I prefer to go into the field (it's common ground, never planted) to give myself some panning room.




That's a selection of the Eagles, about a dozen sorties AM. I'd seen just a single F-35 depart as I got there and thought it was going to be a day without much from the 495th. When they came back I got a pair and a four ship inbound on the radio so I'd obviously missed some go besides the straggler. The pair went down the ILS with the far jet (newly marked for the 48th Ops Group) taking the runway whilst the 495th FS jet went around.






The four ship were the first I have seen myself with the AIM-9 rails fitted. It's not new as I've seen many other pics with Lakenheath jest fitted, but never when I've been there. These guys were up for some circuits as well.






48th boss jet.










20-5582 is the newest jet here, only delivered late September. That may well change before the end of the week as I think the assets are in place in the US for another delivery from Fort Worth, maybe even tomorrow. There's at least five more jets there waiting marked for the 495th.
















Got a few waves to the guys in this session. I was surprised, perfect weather forecast and although purely residents flying there was only about a dozen photographers on the usual South Eastern corner, which by Lakenheath standards is a pretty low turnout.




Not sure what's he's got in the cockpit with him, it wasn't there on this jets first sortie so must be something specific to this pilot or sortie. I know there is a tradition with the 48th that there is a toy that the pilot who has deemed to have embarrassed himself the most for that week must take with them on a sortie, so could be that. Still, he seems happy enough with being seen!






Finally, the OG bird on it's own for the second sortie of the morning.




Hope that's okay, I know they're a bit similar but as I wasn't planning on going I forgot my stepladder so no runway or taxiway shots.



Edited by gary1701
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  • gary1701 changed the title to More 48th FW F-15s and F-35s

I'm always happy when I see that you have a new post up.  As always, thanks for taking the time to post all these great pictures.   Still can't decide if the F-35 is one of the prettiest jets ever built or the absolute ugliest.   From some angles, it definitely looks like a bad-a**'d killing machine.   From others......  not so much.  

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Many thanks for the kind comments. The F-35...a marmite jet if ever there was one. I tend to think it shoots better from behind the wing, rather than nose on. Now I've been over about 5/6 times since they arrived there's a few points I've noticed.


As I'm sure is obvious from my long running series of pics from Lakenheath (and Mildenhall), it's very accessible and easy to photograph at. Whilst we can get around virtually all military airfields in the UK, Lakenheath is one of the few that has a proper, dedicated viewing car park, it's even signposted from the main road. I don't tend to use it, nor do most serious photographers as it's on the wrong side of the runway for the sun but is good for the casual visitor. In the run up to the F-35 arriving, there were fears that they might clamp down on security and maybe close the viewing area and police the other locations where we stop. Thankfully, none of that has happened, and access hasn't changed, it's still okay to put your step ladder up beside the fence and shoot over to the taxiway.


Also, we thought the F-35 drivers might be a little less keen to play to the camera, no low overshoots and constant high climbs on departure, no waving or interplay between the drivers and the photographers. All stuff that is common with the F-15 crews. Not a bit of it! The Valkyries seem to have no problem showing the jets off for the photographers, they even have a little party trick that is unique to them - overshooting directly into the vertical rather than the standard F-15 Southside circuit, then dropping down from height and a sharp pull up and tight turn directly onto the final approach. All very photogenic. 


We also thought that they might have a very low sortie rate, given the expense of F-35 flying hours and all the stories about the jets serviceability. The UK's F-35Bs are all based just 30 minutes up the road at Marham and their sortie rate didn't exactly give much optimism, considering they barely but up a half dozen sorties on a busy day, usually less. This doesn't seem to be the case, at least not yet, although the 48th does have the latest F-35As on USAF strength. On my first trip back on a Friday morning in January they flew 3 from 4, and this kept going up as more jets were delivered. Last Tuesday they flew 12 sorties in the morning, plus at least 4, probably more, after I left in the afternoon. Last week when I took these the 495th had 16 jets on strength, another two were delivered this week, with the total planned to be 26, before the 493rd stands up next year with the same number planned for them. With no more F-15s leaving now the F-15Cs gone, there should be over 50 of each type when the build up is finished.


Hopefully I should have some time again in early December, before the holidays close everything down. I've neglected some of the other bases this year, like Mildenhall and Coningsby so maybe head for them as long as I get some good weather!



Edited by gary1701
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