RAF Mildenhall – 13/07/2016 – Exercise Steppe Eagle 2016

RAF Mildenhall – 13/07/2016 – Exercise Steppe Eagle 2016

Back in July, the jungle drums were beating about the possible arrival of a number of Kazakhstan Air Defence Force transport planes at RAF Mildenhall.  What at first seemed absurd did indeed come to fruition with the arrival of a pair of EADS CASA C-295s and a beautiful Antonov An-72 Coaler.

Their presence in the UK had been prompted by the Steppe Eagle 16 exercise, an international peace keeping exercise which would be played out on the Stanford Training Area (STANTA). Featuring around 800 troops from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, the United Kingdom and the United States, Steppe Eagle 16 saw the participants split into two self-evaluating battallions to determine their ability to maintain safe and secure environments on a global scale.

While there certainly have been Kazakhstan Government aeroplanes on the ground in the UK before, I am unable to recall any previous visits by Kazakhstan Air Defence Force assets.  The aeroplanes are operated by the 218th Air Transport Squadron, based at Almaty Air Base.

The other star movement at Mildenhall on this particular day was Boeing / Northrop Grumman E-8C J-STARS 97-0201 of the 16th ACCS, ACC, USAF, based at Robins AFB, Warner-Robins, Georgia, which was taking part in Exercise Jaded Thunder over the North of England.

A truly excellent day with some very rare airframes to be seen.

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