The 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS) returned to RAF Lakenheath from its latest Middle East deployment on March 1.

A dozen F-15Es landed back in the UK in two flights following a direct flight from the Middle East supported by two KC-10 Extenders and KC-135Rs. Upon landing at Lakenheath the aircraft were noted carrying nose art that had been applied during the period downrange. A further six military jets returned to the UK on March 2.

F-15E 91-0329 'The Undertaker' [William Tunmore-Clarke] #1
Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle - registration 91-0329 (c/n 1236/E194) 'The Undertaker' - lands at RAF Lakenheath. William Tunmore-Clarke

The 494th EFS ‘Panthers’ arrived at Al Dhafra, United Arab Emirates, on October 18, 2019 to join a mix of deployed 4th FW F-15Es from Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina. In addition, the 389th FS ‘Thunderbolts’ are also deployed at the enduring (undisclosed) operating location in Central Command (CENTCOM) under the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing (AEW).

In early January, the ‘Panthers’ relocated from Al Dhafra, to Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, to join the newly formed 378th Air Expeditionary Group as part of the build-up of forces in the region that was in response to heightened tensions with Iran.

Of the 12 F-15Es that returned to RAF Lakenheath on March 1, all bar one sported nose art, which appears to be related to famous wrestlers. It follows a growing tradition of nose art in the Strike Eagle community, notably embraced by the 391st FS ‘Bold Tigers’ during the unit’s deployment to CENTCOM last year.


494th EFS Serials and Nose Art

The 494th EFS serials and art is as follows:

F-15E 91-0324 'Rey Mysterio' [Laura Ellis]
91-0324 Rey Mysterio. All close-up photos courtesy of Laura Ellis unless stated otherwise.


F-15E 91-0326 'Triple H' [Laura Ellis]
91-0326 Triple H


F-15E 91-0327 'John Cena/Spongebob Squarepants' [Laura Ellis]
91-0327 John Cena/Spongebob Squarepants


F-15E 91-0329 'The Undertaker' [Laura Ellis]
91-0329 The Undertaker


F-15E 91-0334 'Sting' [Laura Ellis]
91-0334 Sting


F-15E 92-0364 'Boogyman' [Laura Ellis]
92-0364 Boogyman


98-0133 returned with no new or additional nose art.


F-15E 00-3000 'Mick Foley' - unconfirmed [Laura Ellis]
00-3000 Mick Foley (wrestler identity unconfirmed)


F-15E 00-30003 'Stone Cold Steve Austin' [Laura Ellis]
00-3003 Stone Cold Steve Austin


F-15E 01-2000 'André the Giant' [Laura Ellis]
01-2000 André the Giant


F-15E 01-2001 'Hulk Hogan' [Laura Ellis]
01-2001 Hulk Hogan


F-15E 01-2004 'Nacho' [Laura Ellis]
01-2004 Nacho


UPDATE: Further Arrivals (March 2)

The remaining aircraft returned to RAF Lakenheath on March 2 - three of which also sported some incredible wrestling-inspired nose art.


F-15E 91-0309 'Ric Flair' [Laura Ellis]
91-0309 Ric Flair


91-0312 returned with no new or additional nose art.


91-0314 'The Ultimate Warrior' [Laura Ellis]
91-0314 The Ultimate Warrior


F-15E 91-0320 'Macho Man Randy Savage' [Laura Ellis]
91-0320 Macho Man Randy Savage


Find more military fighter aircraft news in our fighter aircraft news section.