Fighter jets take to the sky as Lakenheath hosts massive aerial war games
RAF LAKENHEATH, England — American air power is taking over the British skies this week as the 48th Fighter Wing hosts massive aerial war games for visiting F-22 Raptor and U.S. Navy F-18 Super Hornet squadrons.
During the training, 24 fourth- and fifth-generation fighter jets roared into the sky in rapid succession during multiple day and night training scenarios that pitted the jets against mock adversaries.
“We’re going out there to do large-force exercise training to practice our air-to-air and air-to-ground skillsets, simulating like we’re going to a war,” Lt. Col. William “Wild” Wooten, 492nd Fighter Squadron commander, said. “Here in England, especially, it’s very rare that we’ll have F-22s, F-15Cs and Es, and F-18s all on the same ramp.”
As the fourth-generation fighters integrate their tactics with fifth-generation F-22s, KC-135 Stratotankers keep the training moving with a continuous fuel supply, and a NATO E-3 Sentry provides command and control.
“It’s all complementary because each airframe is much better at certain aspects,” said the 27th Fighter Squadron commander and F-22 pilot who goes by the call sign “Rapid.” “Each has their niche, and it’s easy to take that competition and figure out who’s good at what and who’s not as good.”
While the exercise is unique, large-scale aerial war games are surprisingly common as different forces train together to learn how to fight as a coalition in contingency operations, said U.S. Navy Commander E.P. “Blue” Hadler.
“We do get to work together with a lot of different countries, air forces and naval forces as well,” said Hadler, commander of the Strike Fighter Squadron 136 aboard Carrier Air Wing One. “It’s important that we know and understand each other’s tactics and try to find out how we can get better.”
Two squadrons of local F-15s are scheduled to train with eight visiting F-18s and six F-22s until about Oct. 22, according to the Air Force.