Suffolk airmen head to war zone

SCORES of Suffolk-based airmen have flown out to the Middle East as part of ongoing military operations in the region.

Laurence Cawley

SCORES of Suffolk-based airmen have flown out to the Middle East as part of ongoing military operations in the region.

The departure of the airmen has been staged in night-time flights during the past three days from the American airbase at RAF Lakenheath.

Chiefs at the base have apologised to those living nearby who might have been disturbed by the aircraft and said they were unable to forewarn residents amid concerns over “operational security”.

The first group of 15 aircraft set off on Wednesday, followed by 10 on New Year's Eve and more yesterday.

Fighters from the United States Air Force in Europe's 48th Fighter Wing, which is based at Lakenheath, will be flying to a number of locations in South East Asia to support Operation Enduring Freedom, the name given to US combat operations in Afghanistan.

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Colonel Jay Silveria, commander of the 48th Fighter Wing, said: “We understand the aircraft noise may have been a nuisance to the people living in areas close to the base.

"However, the early morning take off was necessary to ensure our Airmen land at their deployed locations during daylight hours.

“While we make every effort to minimise the local impact, the aircraft movement at that time was important for safety reasons, and as such, we ask for our neighbours' understanding in this matter.

“Further, we know many people would have preferred to be forewarned of the launch, in the interest of operational security, we could not publicly announce the movement before it occurred.”

It is understood the departures during the past few days is part of a wider deployment of about 450 RAF Lakenheath-based personnel to Iraq and Afghanistan during the festive period.

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