F-15E Strike Eagles and Airmen from the 492nd Fighter Squadron and supporting units across the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, UK, have returned from a six-month deployment to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia in support of Operation ‘Inherent Resolve’.
While deployed as the 492nd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron operated under the the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, the ‘Bolars’ (also known as the ‘Madhatters’) completed nearly 11,000 flying hours and over 2,000 missions while delivering nearly 4,500 precision-guided munitions in support of US Central Command operations.
Lt Col Jeremy Renken, 492nd FS commander, said it was an incredible deployment on many levels and allowed the F-15E to showcase its full capabilities. ‘The squadron had multiple instances of pilots conducting air-to-air intercepts while their weapons systems officers were conducting strikes — not sequentially, but literally at the same time,’ he said. ‘It’s a testament to not only the aircraft and aircrews, but also to the ammo troops, weapons troops, specialists, back shops, and crew chiefs who sent aloft our Strike Eagles and weapons systems that worked flawlessly when there was no margin for error.’
The deployment saw 492nd FS F-15Es downing two Iranian-built Shahed 129 drones that were being operated by Syrian government forces as they targeted allied Syrian forces forces. The two drones were downed on June 8 and June 20.
While the squadron was deployed, it was named the winner of the David C. Schilling Award for accomplishments in 2016. The award, sponsored by the Air Force Association, recognizes ‘the most outstanding contribution in the field of flight’ in the atmosphere or space, by an Air Force military member, Air Force civilian, unit, or group of individuals.