Which aircraft regularly fly over Suffolk and where are they from?

An F-15 Eagle, based at RAF Lakenheath. 

An F-15 Eagle, based at RAF Lakenheath. - Credit: Archant

What's that plane or helicopter flying overhead? Here's a look at some of the aircraft you may see in the skies over Suffolk.

The Red Arrows, due to fly over the county today (Sunday, August 8), are undoubtedly one of the most exciting sights in our skies.

But there are many more aircraft you may notice all through the year, including military and emergency services aircraft carrying out vital work. 

An F-15 fighter jet landing at RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk.

An F-15 fighter jet landing at RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk. - Credit: PA

If you spot a military aircraft overhead, it could be an F-15 Eagle from RAF Lakenheath.

The US Air Force 48th Fighter Wing is the only fighter wing of the USAF in Europe to use the plane.

One of the most successful modern fighter aircraft, the F-15 is a two-seat, twin-engine plane, and according to RAF Lakenheath's web page has a flying speed of 1,875mph (Mach 2 class).

Designed by McDonnell Douglas, now part of Boeing,  Eagles have been in service since 1974, with many updates and different models introduced over the years. 

A 100th ARW KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft

A 100th ARW KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft - Credit: Archant


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Another US military aircraft often seen over Suffolk is the KC-135 Stratotanker, flown by the 100th Air Refueling Wing, based at RAF Mildenhall.

The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker has provided refuelling facilities for the USAF for more than 60 years.

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The "tankers" have a flying speed of  530mph, according to the US Air Force's website, and can fly at up to 50,000ft.

The 100th Air Refueling Wing recently unveiled the historical "Skipper III" nose art on one of the aircraft, during a ceremony at RAF Mildenhall in May. The updated version of the iconic Second World War nose art that has come to symbolise the "Golden Age" of aviation.

An Apache from Wattisham Flying Station, pictured here arriving at the Suffolk Show in 2019

An Apache from Wattisham Flying Station, pictured here arriving at the Suffolk Show in 2019 - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown/Archant

If you see a military helicopter, it is likely to be an Apache from Wattisham Flying Station.

Wattisham is the home of 3 Regiment Army Air Corps and 4 Regiment Army Air Corps which are part of 16 Air Assault Brigade. Many neighbours of the airfield saw and heard Apache attack helicopters last month during a training exercise.

The July exercise also saw Apaches in action in a three-day late-night specialist training mission at RAF Honington, near Bury St Edmunds.

The first new AH-64E Apache attack helicopters were transported to Wattisham in November last year.

A police helicopter in its dark blue and yellow colours

A police helicopter in its dark blue and yellow colours - Credit: Archant

Police helicopters and air ambulances are also familiar sights over the area, playing a vital role in emergencies.

All the UK's police helicopters, including those flying over Suffolk, are operated by the National Police Air Service (NPAS), which provides a "borderless" service.

The NPAS fleet consists of Eurocopter EC135s and EC145s, which are all painted yellow and blue, so they can be seen by other aircraft when flying. Four Vulcanair P68R are also due to join the fleet.

An air ambulance has been called to Badwell Road, in Badwell Ash after a serious collision involving

One of the East Anglian Air Ambulance's helicopters - Credit: Archant

The East Anglian Air Ambulance has two yellow H145 helicopters, which are based at Norwich and Cambridge Airports, and serves Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.

Other air ambulances in the region include the Magpas Air Ambulance, which is based in Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire but serves the whole of the East of England, and the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance.

Magpas has an Agusta Westland 169 helicopter, manufactured by the helicopter division of Leonardo, and its main colour is orange. Essex and Herts has a red-and-yellow colour scheme, and operates an MD 902 Explorer and a new AgustaWestland 169.

Both sometimes attend emergencies in Suffolk. Air ambulances are all run by charities and rely on public support for their lifesaving work.

An Essex and Herts air ambulance

An Essex and Herts air ambulance - Credit: Archant

Other aircraft you may see over the area include passenger jets from Stansted and other airports with flight paths over the county, as well as light aircraft flying from local airfields. 




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