NATO Maritime Command press release
U.S. Naval aviators assigned Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1’s strike fighter squadrons and electronic attack squadron conducted airborne patrols with Allied aircraft through a series of missions spanning enhanced vigilance, training and NATO enhanced Air Policing (eAP), supporting the Alliance’s cohesive defence and collective resolve. Such activities are critical in strengthening NATO’s interoperability and readiness amongst Allies.
“Conducting enhanced Air Policing from North Aegean waters further illustrates NATO’s continued ability to share and pool existing capabilities. We set out to prove that this dynamic employment of an Aircraft Carrier—in pretty restrictive waters—could be done, and in doing so, we have demonstrated the enduring U.S. commitment to Allies.”
U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Curt Renshaw, Commander of Carrier Strike Group 8
Since the HST’s deployment in the region, its aircraft have linked up with Allied aircraft at various times. In late February, F/A-18E Super Hornets were refueled by German Air Force A400M Tankers, and in early March the HST’s squadrons flew a series of training missions with the Romanian Air Force. These activities amongst NATO Allies foster relationships and build aerial interoperability.
“I think it’s great to be a part of the air patrol missions,” said U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Richard Watkins, a VFA-11 pilot on the HST. “It’s a good mission. We have a unique ability to operate from an aircraft carrier and by working with our NATO Allies we really get to showcase our cohesive unified force.”
From March 4-5, the HST was instrumental in conducting fixed-wing flight operations in the North Aegean Sea. The HST, flagship of the U.S. Navy’s presence in the region, along with the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto; Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, USS Gonzalez, USS Cole, USS Bainbridge, USS Jason Dunham, USS Mitscher; Royal Norwegian Navy Fridtjof Nansen-class frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen; and Italian Navy Bergamini-class guided-missile frigate ITS Carabiniere supported NATO enhanced Air Policing missions, bolstering the defence of NATO.
The HST has also had the opportunity during its deployment to integrate with their U.S. Air Force brethren from the 48th, 55nd, and 32nd fighter wings, as well as the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing and the 606th Air Control Squadron.
The U.S. Navy aircraft from the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, flying alongside NATO Allies, has been pivotal in ensuring the integrity of Allied airspace, improving the alliance’s aerial readiness and responsiveness in a dynamic environment.
NATO currently has over 130 aircraft on alert actively defending Allied airspace, maintaining 24/7 patrols in the skies along our Eastern borders.