Warhawks in the sun

Special

The US Air Force’s 480th Fighter Squadron sent 18 aircraft and 320 airmen from

Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany to sunny Portugal for three weeks this winter. Paulo Mata joined the ‘Warhawks’ at Monte Real.

A ‘Warhawks’ pilot poses on the fl ight line prior to a mission from BA5. The Spangdahlem-based squadron sent 18 aircraft and 320 airmen to Portugal.
Mission markings are a common sight among the hardworking Fighting Falcons of the 480th FS, as are the pilots’ ‘Wild Weasel’ patches with the famous ‘ YGBSM’ acronym.

During the European winter, Monte Real air base offers welcome respite from the harsh weather conditions that can be encountered elsewhere on the continent. The latest 480th Fighter Squadron (FS) detachment patch depicted a weasel – symbolising the squadron’s suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD) role – surfing a wave, a reference to the highbreaking waves found at the nearby Nazaré beach. But behind the playful image lay hard work around the clock for the 480th FS during its tenure from February 2 to 22.

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