494th FS F-15E Strike Eagles Return To RAF Lakenheath From Middle East Deployment With Wrestlers Nose Arts

The 14 F-15E that have arrived at RAF Lakenheath on Mar. 1 and 2. (All images: Stewart Jack/The Aviationist).

Nose art for deployed Strike Eagles becoming a standard?

The first 16 F-15E Strike Eagle jets belonging to the 494th FS of the 48th Fighter Wing deployed to the CENTCOM AOR (Area Of Operation) as part of the 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron have returned to RAF Lakenheath on Mar. 1 – 2, 2020.

The first 12 landed at their homebase on Sunday; another four arrived on Monday. Two additional airframes haven’t returned yet.

The 494th EFS deployed to Al Dhafra, UAE, on Oct. 18, 2019. At the beginning of January, the F-15Es of the “Mighty Black Panthers” relocated to Prince Sultan Air Base (PSAB), Saudi Arabia, to join the 378th Air Expeditionary Group as part of the build-up of forces in the region amid growing tensions with Iran.

Interestingly, 14 out of 16 F-15E that have returned to the UK sport some interesting nose arts inspired to famous wrestlers (the two aircraft that were not sporting the nose art belong to the 492nd FS and were washed out according our sources). The Aviationist’s contributor Stewart Jack was  there and took the shots of the aircraft with their new arts.

The aircraft sporting the nose art are (big H/T to our friend Jamie Hunter at Key.Aero who compiled the initial list and identified most of the wrestlers):

#91-0324 Rey Mysterio; #91-0326 Triple H; #91-0327 John Cena; #91-0329 The Undertaker; #91-0334 Sting; #92-0364 Boogyman; #00-3000 Captain Insano; #00-3003 Stone Cold Steve Austin; #01-2000 André the Giant; #01-2001 Hulk Hogan; #01-2004 Nacho Libre; #91-0309 Ric Flair; #91-0314 The Ultimate Warrior; #91-0320 Macho Man Randy Savage.

#91-0329 The Undertaker (All images: Stewart Jack)
#01-2004 Nacho Libre
#91-0327 John Cena
#91-0324 Rey Mysterio
#01-2001 Hulk Hogan
#00-3003 Stone Cold Steve Austin
#01-2000 André the Giant
#92-0364 Boogyman
#91-0329 The Undertaker
#00-3000 Captain Insano
#91-0326 Triple H
#91-0320 Macho Man Randy Savage
#91-0309 Ric Flair
#91-0314 The Ultimate Warrior

Nose art on deployed Strike Eagles had already appeared on the 18 F-15E Strike Eagle jets belonging to the 391st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron returning to Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, from OIR (Operation Inherent Resolve) in April 2019. Is it becoming a sort-of standard? Maybe.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.