On June 13, 2014 my wife and myself went to the Azores from Brussels airport. As it was a trip to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary I could choose the destination and it was quickly found, Terceira one of the island of the Azores would be the destination. Our first stop was the island of Ponta Delgada where we stayed one night.
We continued our journey the next day to Terceira, and on the approach to Lajes I saw two US Marine Corps Harriers, a US Air Force KC-135 and two KC10's standing on the airfield. This was already a good start for our journey, unfortunately the two Harriers were gone the next day.
Lajes Field is the home of the United States Air Force 65th Air Base Group, which in turn is subordinate to the United States Air Forces in Europe. The group provides base and en route support for the U.S. Department of Defense, NATO, and other authorized aircraft transiting through the installation. Due to the global economic crisis, the US government decided to reduce the military contingent at Lajes to no more than 170 active duty personnel. In addition to the 65th Air Base Wing and the US Air Force Air Mobility Command’s 729th Air Mobility Support Squadron, Lajes Field is also the home for the 65th Communication Squadron, which provides communication in the form of High Frequency Global Communications Systems (HFGCS), ground radio, ground radar, SatCom (Satellite Communications) and cryptography to the base. Also the Portuguese Air Force have an l detachment coming from Esquadron 502 "Elefantes", performing tactical and general transport duties, medical evacuation, maritime patrol, and search and rescue support. The detachment is equipped with one EADS CASA C-295, deployed from Montijo AB. The second Portuguese unit is a detachment from Esquadron 751 "Pumas", search and rescue squadron flying two Agusta Westland AW101s, deployed from Montijo AB. They are responsible for the Search and Rescue and AirEvac mission.
Lajes Field is a very open base, you have a clear view on the runway from every direction, on the north side you have a look straight down on the runway because you are standing at a much higher level than on the south side. During our Holiday every day in de morning and evening we went for a couple of hours to the airfield to see if there was any activity. Most military activity was early in the morning or in the evening between 17.00 hours and 21.00 hours.
This is the log of what I saw during these 10 days.
- KC-10A 86-0036 305th AMW McGuire AFB
- KC-10A 86-0032 305th AMW McGuire AFB
- KC-10A 83-0076 60th AMW Travis AFB
- KC-135R 63-8018 173rd ARS Nebraska ANG
- King Air B350 5009 Royal Saudi Air Force
- C-130 not read Egypt Air Force
- C-130E N2731G (CIA)
- 2 AV-8B Harriers with code 57 on the nose and EG on the tail these were too far away to take pictures, and departed at night.
- C-130E 4153 Pakistan Air Force from Nur Khan Air Base no.6 Transport Squadron
- KC-130J BH-071 168071 VMGR-252 US Marines Cherry point
- Pilatus U-28A 05-0556 (civil color scheme) 319th SOS, Hurlburt Field
- Pilatus U-28A 08-0809 (civil color scheme) 319th SOS,Hurlburt Field
- Pilatus U-28A 01-0415 (grey color scheme) 318th SOS, Hurlburt Field
- MC-130J Commando II 09-5711 522nd SOS Cannon AFB
- C295M 16707 Esq502 Montijo Air Base
- C-130J-30 06-1467 115th AS California ANG
- Hercules C5 ZH883 24/30/47sq Brize Norton RAF
- TP84 (C-130H) 84008 TSFE Sqn Lulea Air Base Swedish Air Force
- KC-130T 165353 VMGR-452 US Marines Stewart ANG Base
- C-130H 16804 Esq501, Portuguese Air Force, Montijo Air Base
- C-130T 165161 VR-64 US Navy, McGuire AFB
- KC-10A 84-0188 305th AMW, McGuire AFB
- KC-130J 166472 VMGR-252 US Marines, Cherry Point
- C295M 16701 Esq502 Montijo AB, Portuguese Air Force (noted 3 times)
- L-100 Hercules N3755P Prescott (CIA)
- C-130H 1247 SU-BAE 16sq Cairo, Egypt Air Force
- EH101MK514 (Merlin) 19604 Esq751 Montijo AB
- Antonov AN-124-100 Ruslan RA-82044 Volga Dnepr
- Boeing 757 2G5 "Airtransport 720" (noted 2 times)
- Additionally a large amount of civilian airliners from SATA and TAP
Text & Photography: Alain Meykens