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2. AIR / USAFE / RAF Lakenheath

Last modified: 13 Apr 2021

Country: United States    Region: Overseas

Locale: UK

Latitude: 52° 24' 45" N     Longitude: 0° 33' 23" E

Area use / Military Branches: ACTIVE


5224'45"N 033'23"E USAFE RAF Lakenheath is a former WW2 bomberbase. After the war accommodated for SAC units deploying for 90-day temporary deployments. Base transferred to USAF and high-secerurity became effective when nuclear weapons were permanently stored. In 1956, Lockheed U-2s were airlifted to Lakenheath forming CIA Detachment A before moving to Germany. In the same year a nuc weapons (Broken Arrow) accident occurred when a B-47 crashed on an igloo containing 3 Mk 6 nuclear bombs! The crew was killed but no detonations...
In 1960 USAF redeployed units from France and Lakenheath transferred to USAFE Base has been used by US units operating F-4D Phantom II and FB-111s in 1977. F-111s participated in operation "El dorado canyon" (raid on Lybia) in 1986.

Lakenheath received its first F-15E Strike Eagles in 1992. With departure of the FB-111s, the 495th FS deactivated and in 1992, the last FB-111 left. Along with its departure, 493rd FS deactivated. With closure of Bitburg airbase, Germany in 1994, it was decided to reactivate 493rd as F-15C/D squadron in 1995. The 493ds arrival made the 48th the largest F-15E/F-15C composite USAFE unit. In 2003, the 48th FW received the first of 10 new F-15E Strike Eagles. The aircraft were part of the final batch of F-15s ordered by the USAF.

Lakenheath has 60 on base Protective Aircraft Shelters. 33 are WS3 equipped (storage vaults with max capacity of 132 weapons). These vaults were completed in 1994. Prior to that a nuclear storage at grid 5225'3"N 033'29"E had been used. In 2003 a total of 110 B61 bombs had been available on base for delivery by F-15E's of the 48th Fighter Wing. In 2008 the USAF Munition Support Sq deactivated as all bombs were airlifted to the US.

Current status:
48th Fighter Wing operating F-15C/E's. Because of the current political situation in 2016 a study to make Lakenheath limited nuc ops again has been started.
Future: Lakenheath will remain USAFEs only European fighterbase and will be operating F-35 Lightnings by the end of 2021.

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