RAF LAKENHEATH, England — Fighter squadrons from throughout U.S. Air Forces in Europe will take part in a bombing competition known as Excalibur next week in England.
Squadrons from RAF Lakenheath; Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany; and Aviano Air Base, Italy, will compete with each other and two squadrons from the Royal Air Force to see which does the best job of putting bombs on target at two training ranges in England.
“There’s a myriad of events,” said Capt. Mike Ebner, an F-15E Strike Eagle pilot with the 492nd Fighter Squadron, 48th Fighter Wing, who has organized the event at RAF Lakenheath.
Crews will be judged on how well they drop BDU-33 dummy bombs from various angles, altitudes and speeds.
The two-day competition takes place Wednesday and Thursday. The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony soon after competition ends Thursday.
Maj. Clinton Mixon, chief of F-15 programs for USAFE, said the idea to renew the competition came from Gen. Robert T. “Doc” Foglesong, USAFE commander, who remembers Excalibur from his time serving in Europe as a fighter pilot years ago.
“He decided to resurrect the competition,” said Mixon, who anticipates similar competitions in the future. “That’s what General Foglesong envisions. That’s what he’d like to see.”
Competitors will include four aircraft from each squadron. The squadrons taking part are the 492nd Fighter Squadron and 494th Fighter Squadron from RAF Lakenheath, both flying F-15E Strike Eagles; the 22nd Fighter Squadron and 23rd Fighter Squadron from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, both flying F-16 Falcons; and the 555th Fighter Squadron and 510th Fighter Squadron from Aviano Air Base, Italy, both flying F-16 Falcons.
The Royal Air Force will send four Tornado aircraft from RAF Marham and four Jaguars from RAF Coltishall.
Mixon said the competitors would be judged not only on how close the bombs are to the target, but how well the crews followed the set parameters, such as angle of attack, altitude and speed. A crew might hit the target, but lose to one who did a better job of fitting the attack parameters even though they missed the target.
He said pilots would bring their egos to the competition and not want to embarrass themselves in front of their peers. They also will be representing their wings and their aircraft.
Ebner said, “Of course, everybody wants to win. Nobody wants to lose. Anytime there’s a competition, you want to win. Guys will take it seriously.”
Mixon said there is hope to expand the competition in the future to include other air forces.
“That is the plan — to invite as many of our NATO partners as we can,” he said.