F-15s assigned to RAF Lakenheath, England, are surging flight operations, almost quadrupling the number of daily sorties while standing by for operations. So far in March, F-15s with the 48th Fighter Wing have flown up to 54 sorties per day, an increase from the regular schedule of 14. Pilots are getting between nine and 12 sorties per week—or what many pilots get per month—said Lt. Col. Jason? Zumwalt, the director of operations for the 493rd Fighter Squadron, in a release. To keep up with the pace, the wing is practicing hot pit refueling. “It’s great experience for the pilot to stay in the jet, get refueled, and do it again,” Zumwalt said. “The sorties are exhausting, and this training pushes pilots further, testing their limits, so they are ready at a moment’s notice and can successfully accomplish the mission.” On Feb. 19, Lakenheath F-15s joined unmanned aircraft in striking an ISIS training camp near Sabratha, Libya. The wing’s F-15s in November 2015 also deployed to help patrol Turkey’s airspace and conduct strike operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.