Hello FighterSweep fans and welcome to another edition of Burner Friday! This week we’re going to look at a unique unit with a special mission, training Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) pilots and WSOs. Part of the 366FW at Mountain Home AFB, the 428th Fighter Squadron Buccaneers operate the Boeing F-15SG Strike Eagle, a highly advanced, badass version of the F-15E flown by our own Air Force.

The 428 FS has a rich history, tracing its roots to 1943 when the unit began operating the Lockheed P-38 Lightning under the 9th Air Force in Europe, and took part in the D-Day invasions of German-occupied France. After World War II the unit was deactivated for a period of about seven years.

Reactivated during the Korean War, the 428FS stayed busy for the next few decades with several deployments to Vietnam under its belt while flying the F-111 Aardvark. The squadron found its current home in 1975 and switched from the F-111 to the mighty McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II for a short period. By 1980 the first F-16s had arrived at Mountain Home, and the 428FS operated the Viper until they were reassigned to Cannon AFB in 1990 and transitioned back to the F-111 until the type’s retirement in 1995.

In 1998 the 428FS was reactivated as part of Peace Carvin III and began its relationship with the RSAF, training aircrews in the operation of the block 52 F-16. This arrangement augmented the 425FS already in place at Luke AFB which had older F-16s at the time. By 2005, the Peace Carvin III initiative was complete, and with the transfer of Cannon AFB over to the AFSOC, the 428FS stood down.

A 428FS F-15SG departs Eielson in spectacular fashion
A 428FS F-15SG departs Eielson in spectacular fashion

That is, until the behemoth F-15SG came along. Activated towards the tail end of 2008 and once again back at Mountain Home, the 428FS operates a dozen aircraft in support of RSAF training under the Peace Carvin V program, a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) production. RSAF aircrew and maintainers are attached to the Buccaneers, fully integrating with their American counterparts, for a period of two years before returning back home to Singapore and joining the active F-15SG unit, 149 Squadron at Paya Lebar Air Base.

The jet itself is packed full of upgraded avionics, sensors, and weapons capability. In the nose is the AN/APG-63v3 AESA radar, the best that the US has offered to an international customer. For added situational awareness on the SG, the jet also includes a version of Link 16 and the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS). The F-15SG also comes standard with a case of the measles, with added bumps all over the aircraft thanks to its vast array of added sensors, including Lockheed’s Sniper targeting and navigation pod complemented by their Tiger Eyes Infra-Red Search and Tracking (IRST) system. It’s all business in the back too, with plenty of power offered up by a pair of General Electric F110-GE-129 afterburning turbofans, offering up 29,000 pounds of thrust. Each. That gives it more power than its F-15E peers at Mountain Home.

An F-15SG taxies into position on Eielson's runway. Notice the added sensor just above the intake.
An F-15SG taxies into position on Eielson’s runway. Notice the added sensor just below the canopy rail.

All of this makes the F-15SG a formidable and highly lethal strike fighter. Boeing already had winner with the F-15E Strike Eagle, and they took it to an entirely new level with the SG variant. The Mud Hen is already arguably the most capable airframe in the USAF inventory, and I’d love to see some of these advanced F-15s flying with USAF roundels.

Both RSAF training squadrons are active participants in large exercises around North America, including flag-level events such as Maple and Red Flags. Last year the Buccaneers made their debut at Nellis for Red Flag sporting a pair of colorful tails, but we caught up with the 428FS when they deployed to Eielson AFB in July 2011 for Red Flag-Alaska as part of their effort to be full-up IOC a year later.

The 428FS flagship starts up for a Red Flag-Alaska mission
The 428FS flagship starts up for a Red Flag-Alaska mission – notice the Sniper and Tiger Eyes pod under the intake