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USAF Mildenhall: Special operations jet gets in row with RAF pilot over the Norfolk skies

13:14 13 May 2014

RAF Mildenhall USAF airfield

. Photo: Mike Page

RAF Mildenhall USAF airfield . Photo: Mike Page

A jet from USAF Mildenhall became embroiled in a mid-air row with an RAF pilot over the skies of Norfolk, according to a new report.


The pilot of an American MC-130 transport craft - part of the base’s 352nd Special Operations Group - filed a near-miss report about a Tornado GR4 fighter, claiming it came too close to parachutists it had dropped during an exercise near the village of Sculthorpe last November.

After the US pilot radioed a warning to the British fighter, the Tornado pilot radioed back that he “had every right to be here” according to a UK AirProx Board (UKAB) review of the incident.

The aircraft came within two miles of each other at their closest point, according to the UKAB, which investigates near-misses.

The USAF pilot claimed there was a “high” risk to the parachutists during the incident.

But the RAF pilot, flying one of several Tornados in the area on November 7, told the UKAB they had been visible at all times and the severity of the incident was “low”. Local military air traffic control reported it as “negligible”.

The UKAB report said the USAF pilot was “clearly frustrated by the continued presence of the Tornados” but it had determined there was no risk to the parachutists.

Some members of the investigation board felt the Tornado pilots could have been more flexible, it said.

It added: “However, members felt that the mismatch in perception could quite easily have been prevented with the application of effective co-ordination between these two units who both commonly use the busy East Anglian airspace.”

The 352nd unit has five squadrons and two different versions of MC-130 aircraft assigned, as well as CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, the first of which arrived in June 2013 and have prompted complaints from residents over noise.

Members of the unit have been involved in operations such as Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom.



  • The use of the name "USAF Mildenhall" is inaccurate, as is the implied description of the MC-130 as a jet.

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    Simon Daw

    Tuesday, May 13, 2014

  • There is no such thing as "USAF Mildenhall". It is RAF Mildenhall even if the USAF is the main operator of the base. Stateside all USAF bases are called an Air Force Base (AFB), such as Travis AFB in northern California near where I live. Also, the MC-130 IS NOT a jet. It is a turboprop aircraft. A C-17 Globemaster III is a jet. It has no props.

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    Tuesday, May 13, 2014

  • It's still RAF property, even if it's American personnel based there. So RAF MildenhallLakenheath is correct. What's the big deal anyway?! I keep seeing people moan about it on here!

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    Tuesday, May 13, 2014

  • Sounds like handbags. Why can't the COs of the respective units get together and sort this out, rather than have the unedifying spectacle of supposedly professional pilots bickering like schoolboys?

    Report this comment

    Gilbert Eaton

    Tuesday, May 13, 2014

  • Congratulations on telling the truth and calling it USAf Mildenhall instead of the usual untrue RAF.

    Report this comment


    Tuesday, May 13, 2014

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