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29 July 2006 - Lakenheath

Airmen and their F-15E Strike Eagles returned from Bulgaria - about 200 Airmen and ten jets from the 48th Fighter Wing deployed to Graf-Isnatievo Air Base, Bulgaria, for the two-week exercise Immediate Response that began on 17 July. It was a joint, trilateral exercise with the Bulgarian and Romanian militaries. American Soldiers also took part.

"The training went well", said Lt. Col. Troy Stone, the 492nd Fighter Squadron operations officer and deployment commander. "We developed a very close relationship with the Bulgarian pilots and their air force leadership," he said. "And I think we established long-lasting relationships between our two air forces."

The visit was the first bare-base deployment for a Lakenheath unit in about seven years. The Airmen - flyers, maintainers and support troops - ran into a few problems, the colonel said. First, the Russian-made An-124 Condor transport that flew the Airmen and their equipment could not land at the air base. The huge aircraft had to land at Plovdiv, about ten miles from the air base. From there, trucks had to finish the job. There were also initial problems getting fuel for the jets because Bulgarian fighters use a different type, Colonel Stone said. After some searching, the unit found a supplier in Turkey, but had to arrange to truck in the fuel. "We had a lot to learn," Colonel Stone said. "But other than that, everything went extremely well."

The problems the Airmen faced and the lessons they learned are exactly why the wing deploys for training throughout Europe. Because apart from its number one job of training to deploy when needed for Air Force deployments, the Liberty Wing's second mission is to support NATO's European Command, wing vice commander Col. Jay Silveria said. "Deployments like this help teach us to fly with other nations," he said. "We have to train next to them to be able to fight next to them." Such was the case in Bulgaria. The pilots were able to fly over unfamiliar airspace and bombing ranges. And the Strike Eagles flew sorties against dissimilar aircraft, including MiG-21 Fishbed and MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters. Colonel Stone said each day, about half the Lakenheath jets supported a ground exercise in which US, Bulgarian and Romanian troops took part. The other aircraft flew against the Bulgarian MiGs. Aircrews gained valuable training in ground attack and air-to-air tactics.

With the deployment over, the wing will now look back at it and apply what it learned so the next deployment will be better. Picture courtesy Matthew Clements, text by USAFE news


26 July 2006 - Mildenhall

Dropping in were the two Super Hornets seen at RIAT and Farnborough, making use of the US Naval Facility before the long haul home. Pictures courtesy Matthew Clements

18 July 2006 - Farnborough

Nimrod MRA4 ZJ517 made a couple of passes at the day's airshow. We think this is the first 'public' outing for the MRA4 - unless you know different! Picture courtesy Roger Cook/Pynelea Photo Bureau

13 July 2006 - Middle Wallop

On its way to RIAT, Czech Air Force Mi-24V Hind 7353 from 231 LBV dropped in at Middle Wallop for some brief sorties with the based Apache AH1s. Picture courtesy Andrew Ford


10 July 2006 - Lakenheath

Airmen take tour of duty to Bulgaria

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, Suffolk More than 200 Airmen, along with ten F-15E Strike Eagles from the 492nd Fighter Squadron will travel to Plovdiv, Bulgaria to participate in Exercise 'Immediate Response 2006'.

The exercise runs from 17 July through to 31 July and is designed to enhance the cooperation between NATO and the Romanian, Bulgarian and US air forces and armies. The exercise will improve the relationship and abilities of all forces involved.

Although Airmen will travel to Bulgaria on commercial aircraft, the equipment required for the exercise will be transported by a Russian cargo plane, the AN-124 Condor. The Condor will make three trips to RAF Lakenheath starting 10 July.


4 July 2006 - Duxford

Presented to the press at Duxford was the star of the forthcoming Flying Legends airshow, the Swiss-manufactured Morane 406C (left) operated by Association Morane Charlie Fox, based at La Ferte Alais near Paris in France. Also seen was TFC's P-47G, which definitely will stay in the hangar this year (see below) and the IWM's York, recently fresh from the paint shop. Pictures courtesy Dave Eade/DEltafoto

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