The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (HST) conducts NATO’s enhanced Air Policing activities in direct support of Alliance security, as part of its scheduled deployment in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations to defend U.S., Allied and Partner interests in Europe and Africa.
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,” said U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Curt Renshaw, commander, Carrier Strike Group Eight. “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.”
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 refuelled 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; Norwegian Royal Navy Fridjof Nansen-class frigate HNoMS Fridjtof 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, have been pivotal in ensuring the integrity of Allied airspace, improving the alliance 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.
(Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office)