F-15E Rocketing Through Lake District Valleys Marks Return Of The 48th FW Strike Eagles in LFA 17

Close up view on F-15E sporting "Loki" nose art. (All images: Simon Pearson-Cougill)

The F-15E Strike Eagles from the 48th Fighter Wing have used LFA 17 for their low level training again.

Two F-15E Strike Eagle jets belonging to the 48th FW based at RAF Lakenheath, UK, engaged LFA 17, one of the Low Flying Areas where British and allied combat aircraft can train flying low level, last week. On Dec. 3, 2020, using radio callsign “JAZZ 51”, a two-ship formation was spotted by our friend and photographer Simon Pearson-Cougill flying low level over Thirlmere, in the Lake District.

With 4,347 sq. miles of airspace available, which include Cumbria, East North Yorkshire, and North Lancashire, LFA 17 is one the airspaces where tactical and transport aircraft can fly as low as 250 feet (even lower over open water) while helicopters can go lower, to 100 feet AGL (Above Ground Level), even though, due to the nature of their task, for specific training purposes, choppers may also fly down to ground level. Before last Thursday, the last time the F-15Es were spotted in LFA 17 was in summer this year.

91-0321 deployed to Jordan with the 492nd FS but sports a 494th FS emblem on the left intake.

Interestingly, “JAZZ 51” is one of the F-15E Strike Eagles that deployed with the 492nd Fighter Squadron to Muwaffaq Salti Air Base, Jordan, earlier this year. While deployed as the 492nd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, the “Bolars” completed nearly 11,000 flying hours and over 2,000 missions while delivering nearly 4,500 precision-guided munitions in support of U.S. Central Command operations. The “Bolars” returned to RAF Lakenheath last October.

The aircraft, airframe 91-0321, along with bomb markings, sports a “Loki” nose art. Indeed, returning home from their last 6-month rotation to the Middle East, 14 Strike Eagles sported nose art featuring comic book characters, movie and television show villains, and more. Loki is one of the villains of the Marvel Universe’s Thor character.

Nose art for deployed Strike Eagles has become a sort of standard: 494th FS F-15Es deployed to Al Dhafra, UAE, and then to Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, returned to Lakenheath in March 2020 sporting wrestlers nose arts. In 2019, 18 F-15E Strike Eagle jets belonging to the 391st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron returned to their home at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, with unique nicknames and nose arts.

As a side note, 91-0321 is a 492nd FS aircraft (see also the tail flash) wearing a 494th FS “Panthers” patch on the intake.

Another image of JAZZ 51 flying low through LFA 17 on Dec. 3, 2020.



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.