Happy Friday, FighterSweep Fans! We’re not sure about you, but the end of this week could not have arrived fast enough. But the weekend is finally here and we get to start it off correctly, with healthy levels of the “Sound of Freedom” and glowing exhaust cans–just how we like it!

For this week’s installment of Burner Friday, Jonathan Derden brings to us another spectacular example of his work, one featuring a 494th FS F-15E Strike Eagle taking off from Nellis Air Force Base in full reheat. This particular image was captured during Red Flag, with this “Panthers” Mud Hen taking off as part of the Blue Force interdiction package.

The 494th Fighter Squadron is assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath in the United Kingdon. The “Liberty Wing,” currently under the leadership of our friend Colonel Robert Novotny, is home to a pair of Strike Eagle squadrons, both of whom have seen their fair share of combat in recent years.

Like the other squadrons in Europe, the 494th traces its history back to World War II, where it flew its first combat in April of 1944, flying the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. During the D-Day invasion, the Panthers were overhead in Normandy, dropping bombs on bridges and German gun emplacements, attacking railway infrastructure, and providing bomb damage assessments and reconnaissance.

During the Cold War Era, the squadron graduated to jet aircraft with the F-84, followed by the F-86, and then the F-100. After moving to Lakenheath in 1960, the unit stayed in the Super Sabre for the next decade until the transition to the new McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. That was followed in the later 1970s by the F-111F Aardvark. The 494th saw combat over Libya in 1986 during Operation El Dorado Canyon.

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It was in 1992, following the squadron’s deployment and excellent contributions during Operation Desert Storm, that the Panthers transferred to the F-15E. To this day, The 494th FS is a combat-ready unit capable of executing strategic attack, deep interdiction, and counter-air missions in support of United States national security interests.

Enjoy your weekend, FighterSweep Fans!