Personnel from the US Air Force’s 494th Fighter Squadron (FS) “Panthers” returned to RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk, between October 26 and November 1 from an eight-month deployment to Southwest Asia.
Performing flights with its Boeing F-15E Strike eagles from an undisclosed location, the 494th FS generated over 1900 sorties and over 8400 hours of combat operations whilst in theatre. Conducted in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the Panthers also flew other missions simultaneously in support of Operational Final Countdown and Operation Allies Welcome.
During the deployment, the squadron forward deployed in less than 24 hours of receiving the call to a separate location to fly missions to support Operation Allies Welcome. This was one of the largest airlifts in history to help evacuate allied citizens and representatives from Kabul, Afghanistan (see November issue of AirForces Monthly).
Lt Col Jonathan Hutto, 494th FS commander said: “The airmen we had deployed with us handled the mission with professionalism, humility and a credibility that only comes through being hardened through the fire. They believed in the mission and that gave them a purpose and drive to not only complete the mission but excel at it.”