Helicopter crash: Aircraft was from biggest US base

File picture: A HH-60G Pave Hawk trains over the airfield at Lakenheath. Photograph: Simon Parker. File picture: A HH-60G Pave Hawk trains over the airfield at Lakenheath. Photograph: Simon Parker.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014
9:38 AM

RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk is the largest US Air Force-operated base in England and home to the 48th Fighter Wing, also known as the Liberty Wing.

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Nearly 4,500 active-duty military members work for the wing, which includes a separate base at nearby RAF Feltwell, supported by nearly 2,000 British and US civilians.

The base is home to F-15 fighter planes, the US Air Forces in Europe’s (USAFE) only F-15 fighter wing.

It is also home to Pave Hawk helicopters, which are used for both humanitarian and military missions including civil search and rescue, medical evacuation and disaster response.

The wing first made its home at the base in 1952, as part of the US response to mounting Cold War tensions.

Its operations have included leading the US bombing of Libya in 1986, codenamed the El Dorado Canyon raids.

The wing was also the first F-111 fighter unit to deploy to the First Gulf War during the operations code-named Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

The wing has played a role since 2001 flying combat missions and providing combat support in Operations Enduring Freedom - the US name given by the US government to its military operations in Afghanistan - and Iraqi Freedom, the code name for the Iraq war.

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