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Large-Force Dissimilar Air Combat Training
48th Fighter Wing - RAF Lakenheath
October 5-22, 2018
Large-Force Dissimilar Air Combat Training
From October 5 to 22 the 48th Fighter Wing hosted a Large-Force Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) training exercise. Six Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptors without prior announcement as a capability demonstration of the Global Response Force (GRF) which can be tasked by the U.S. Secretary of Defense to respond to crisis situations known as 'Rapid Raptor'. The GRF provides an array of tailorable and rapidly deployable forces which can respond quickly to a range of worldwide contingencies. This F-22 deployment was designed to test the GRF capability and the Rapid Raptor concept to quickly deploy America's only combat proven 5th generation fighter on a moment's notice anywhere in the world. The 'FF' coded F-22A Raptors were with the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, Virginia.

By coincidence the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman (CVN-75) was to exercise off the United Kingdom coast and were invited by the 48FW to participate in a Large-Force Dissimilar Air Combat Training exercise at relatively short notice. The eight US Navy F-18 Super Hornets were with Strike Fighter Squadron 11 and based when on shore at NAS Oceana in Virginia left the carrier on the western approaches for RAF Lakenheath. The Carrier Wing 1 deployment consisted; two VFA-11 'Red Rippers F/A-18F Super Hornets, two VFA-211 'Fighting Checkmates' F/A-18F Super Hornets, two VFA-136 'Knighthawks' F/A-18E Super Hornets and two VFA-81 'Sunliners' F/A-18E Super Hornets.

DACT exercises bring different types of fighter aircraft from various units together for air combat training in the same air space. It was conducted to enhance the professional relationships and improve overall coordination with allies and military partners . It demonstrates the U.S. commitment to providing fifth-generation fighter presence in Europe. “In the near future we will see a steady increase in fifth generation aircraft across Europe,” said Col. Jason Camilletti, 48th Operations Group commander, “whether it’s rotational aircraft stopping by for a few weeks like the F-22 Raptors, or permanently assigned F-35 Lightnings at RAF Marham and other future operating locations across Europe, to include here at Lakenheath. It is absolutely critical we learn how to best operate together in order to secure the sovereign skies above.”

The training integrated fourth generation and fifth generation fighters, as well as fostered cross-service relationship building. “We know the capabilities of our own aircraft,” said U.S. Navy detachment commander EP Hadler. “But if we are going to work as a coalition, it’s important that we know and understand each other’s tactics and try to find out how we can get better.”

Apart from flying with and against 493rd F-15C Eagles and 492nd F-15E Strike Eagles the F-22As were flying with Finnish Air Force F-18 Hornets (air refuelled by 100 ARW) and Belgian F-16AM Fighting Falcons and visiting Kleine Brogel, during the deployment. Over this period the 494th FS returned from their long deployment in the Far East. They arrived with nose art, but that was removed in a day or so and in a sandy state.
A 48FW F-15E Strike Eagle faces the US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet deployment.
This F-15E has just returned from the Far East and still has sand clinging to it.
Left to right: Carrier Wing One (CVW-1) deployment of eight F/A-18E/F Super Hornets on the 494th ramp.
Left to right: Carrier Wing One (CVW-1) deployment of eight F/A-18E/F Super Hornets on the 494th ramp.
F-22A Raptor (08-4163 'FF 1st FW') with the 27th / 94th FS, 1st FW.
Left to right: F/A-18F Super Hornet (166665 '210-AB') with VFA-211 'Fighting Checkmates' passes waiting F-15C Eagle at the start of another DACT evercise.
F/A-18E Super Hornet (166631 '106-AB') with VFA-11 'Red Rippers'.
F-15C Eagle (86-154 'LN') with the 493rd FS departs ahead of waiting F-22A Raptor. .
Left to right: F-22A Raptor (10-4194 '94th FS') with 94th FS, 1st FW with F-15C Eagle next to launch.
F/A-18E Super Hornet (166839 '411-AB') with VFA-81 'Sunliners' rolling ahead of F-15C Eagle.