The 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS) returned to RAF Lakenheath from its latest Middle East deployment on March 1.
A dozen F-15Es landed back in the UK in two flights following a direct flight from the Middle East supported by two KC-10 Extenders and KC-135Rs. Upon landing at Lakenheath the aircraft were noted carrying nose art that had been applied during the period downrange. A further six military jets returned to the UK on March 2.
The 494th EFS ‘Panthers’ arrived at Al Dhafra, United Arab Emirates, on October 18, 2019 to join a mix of deployed 4th FW F-15Es from Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina. In addition, the 389th FS ‘Thunderbolts’ are also deployed at the enduring (undisclosed) operating location in Central Command (CENTCOM) under the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing (AEW).
In early January, the ‘Panthers’ relocated from Al Dhafra, to Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, to join the newly formed 378th Air Expeditionary Group as part of the build-up of forces in the region that was in response to heightened tensions with Iran.
Of the 12 F-15Es that returned to RAF Lakenheath on March 1, all bar one sported nose art, which appears to be related to famous wrestlers. It follows a growing tradition of nose art in the Strike Eagle community, notably embraced by the 391st FS ‘Bold Tigers’ during the unit’s deployment to CENTCOM last year.
494th EFS Serials and Nose Art
The 494th EFS serials and art is as follows:
98-0133 returned with no new or additional nose art.
UPDATE: Further Arrivals (March 2)
The remaining aircraft returned to RAF Lakenheath on March 2 - three of which also sported some incredible wrestling-inspired nose art.
91-0312 returned with no new or additional nose art.
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