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US military planes from two Suffolk bases join in combat exercise

PUBLISHED: 16:24 03 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:33 05 March 2020

Crew chiefs assigned to the 492nd Fighter Squadron greet their aircrew before a training sortie in support of exercise Valiant Liberty at RAF Lakenheath. Picture: US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Jessi Monte

Crew chiefs assigned to the 492nd Fighter Squadron greet their aircrew before a training sortie in support of exercise Valiant Liberty at RAF Lakenheath. Picture: US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Jessi Monte

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If you look to the skies over Suffolk, you could spot US air force planes from RAF Lakenheath and Mildenhall taking part in a military exercise.

An F-15E Strike Eagle assigned to the 492nd Fighter Squadron takes off for a training sortie in support of exercise Valiant Liberty at RAF  Lakenheath. Picture: US Air Force/ Airman 1st Class Jessi MonteAn F-15E Strike Eagle assigned to the 492nd Fighter Squadron takes off for a training sortie in support of exercise Valiant Liberty at RAF Lakenheath. Picture: US Air Force/ Airman 1st Class Jessi Monte

The exercise, named Valiant Liberty, will involve limited low-level and night flying, and is due to run until March 13.

A spokesman for the 48th Fighter Wing, based at RAF Lakenheath, said flying over the area around the bases is not expected after 10pm each night, but added: "All our jets will be flying from Lakenheath and Mildenhall, so people will see a lot more activity over the next two weeks."

An F-15C Eagle assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron takes off from Royal Air Force Lakenheath Picture:US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Madeline HerzogAn F-15C Eagle assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron takes off from Royal Air Force Lakenheath Picture:US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Madeline Herzog

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The agile combat employment exercise also involves US forces from the 100th Air Refueling Wing, based at RAF Mildenhall, as well as the 352nd Special Operations Wing, 21st Special Tactics Squadron and 548th Combat Training Squadron.

An F-15E Strike Eagle assigned to the 492nd Fighter Squadron takes off at RAF Lakenheath. Picture: US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessi MonteAn F-15E Strike Eagle assigned to the 492nd Fighter Squadron takes off at RAF Lakenheath. Picture: US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessi Monte

Integrated UK Special Operations Forces and Joint Forward Air Controller Training Standards Unit are also taking part in the exercise.

RAF Lakenheath said in a statement: "Agile combat employment exercises allow US and allied forces to deter, defend and win across the spectrum of conflict. Exercises and deployments that utilise ACE concepts ensure forces in Europe are ready to protect and defend partners, allies and US interests at a moment's notice, and generate lethal combat power should deterrence fail."

The statement said overland flying will be limited to the areas of Holbeach, Sculthorpe, Muckleburgh and the Stanford training area as far as possible, adding that all training will be conducted in accordance with Ministry of Defence and UK airspace regulations.

If you have any concerns relating to the aircraft flying, email MOD at SWK-lowflying@mod.gov.uk

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