ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England --
The grey English skies here were more diverse than usual today, as aircraft from all 48th Fighter Wing flying squadrons took flight.
This rare occasion was one of the few times this year HH-60G Pave Hawks from the 56th Rescue Squadron, F-15C Eagles from the 493rd Fighter Squadron and F-15E Strike Eagles from the 492nd and 494th FS were operating in the same airspace at once.
In the past year, Liberty Wing flying squadrons have supported deployments and training exercises across the globe.
In fiscal year 2017, the 48th FW flying squadrons flew 8,823 sorties, which amounted to over 14,696 flying hours, a member of the 48th Operations Group said.
Col. Evan Pettus, 48th FW commander, said he appreciates the support from the local community during times of flying activity.
“We have a great relationship with our host nation partners and community members,” he said. “They understand the importance of these operations, even when the skies get a bit louder than usual.”
Airmen and HH-60Gs from the 56th RQS deployed earlier this year from January to June. They are scheduled to relocate to Aviano Air Base, Italy, by June 2018.
The 492nd FS and its F-15E Strike Eagles recently returned from a six-month deployment to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.
While deployed as the 492nd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, the “Bolars” completed over 2,000 missions in support of U.S. Central Command operations.
The squadron was also named the winner of the David C. Schilling Award, which recognizes the most outstanding contribution in the field of flight, in the atmosphere or space, by an Air Force military member, Air Force civilian, unit or group of individuals.
The 493rd FS “Grim Reapers” are currently active in Lithuania, supporting NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission. The squadron also increased interoperability with U.S. allies during exercise Artic Challenge in Finland and Sweden earlier this year.
Additionally, the squadron earned the coveted Raytheon Trophy for the fifth time in 10 years for performance across specified mission sets, exercise participation, inspection results and squadron and individual achievements.
The 494th FS deployed to Israel in support of exercise Juniper Falcon May 7 - 22, 2017.
The “Mighty Black Panthers” conducted Defense Counter Air integration training with the Israeli Air Force, designed to improve Israel's qualitative military edge through air readiness, while building on the enduring partnership between the U.S. and Israel.
This year, the two F-15E Strike Eagle squadrons celebrated their 25th year of being at the Liberty Wing.