U.S. Marine Corps helicopters aboard amphibious assault ship and USAF drones lead new round of U.S. air strikes on ISIS in Libya

Aug 01 2016 - 10 Comments

Manned and unmanned aircraft have taken part in the air strikes launched on Aug. 1, against Daesh targets around Sirte, in Libya.

On Aug. 1, the U.S. launched a new round of air strikes against Islamic State positions around Sirte, in northern Libya, mid-way between Tripoli and Benghazi.

According to the Pentagon, the raid was conducted following a request by the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) to support GNA-affiliated forces seeking to defeat Daesh in its primary stronghold in Libya.

The raids were just the final stage of a three-phase operation planned and managed by AFRICOM, MilitaryTimes has reported: the first element of this plan was dubbed Operation Odyssey Resolve, consisting of ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) flights in the region; the second, Operation Junction Serpent, provided targeting information; while the third element, Operation Odyssey Lightning, saw the actual air strikes take place.

The latter ones were reportedly launched by a U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone based at Sigonella airbase, in Sicily, Italy, as well as by helicopters aboard the U.S. amphibious assault ship USS Wasp.

USS Wasp, with an Aviation Combat Element of the 22nd MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit), consisting of a composite squadron, the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264 (Reinforced) – VMM-264, containing MV-22B, CH-53E, AH-1W, UH-1Y helicopters and AV-8B+ Harrier II jets, played a major role in Operation Odyssey Lightning.

160626-N-JW440-229 ATLANTIC OCEAN (June 26, 2016) Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Markgerald Zagala signals an AH-1W Super Cobra to land aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). Wasp is deployed with the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group to support maritime security and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Rawad Madanat/Released)

160626-N-JW440-229 ATLANTIC OCEAN (June 26, 2016) Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Markgerald Zagala signals an AH-1W Super Cobra to land aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). Wasp is deployed with the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group to support maritime security and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Rawad Madanat/Released)

In particular, at least two Super Cobra from HMLA-269 were launched from USS Wasp and used their AGM-114 Hellfire missiles to destroy some ground vehicles and two T-72 tanks.Here below an interesting infographic put together by Middle East expert, military aviation journalist Babak Taghvaee who has collected some details about the first raid in Libya.According to the details available at the moment, the AV-8B Harriers have not been involved in the air strikes yet.USS Wasp activity infographic

Top image credit: U.S. Marine Corps

 

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  • Rocco

    It would if been nice to see the F-35B aboard & in action.

    • Marco

      No F-35Bs on board. Good, legacy and perfectly fit AV-8B Harrier II …

  • Marco

    Something is not clear. In this strike, what was the role of the MV-22s? I would understand the presence of one MV-22 to eventually pick up a downed AH-1W crew. … but what were three MV-22 doing to support the strike of 2 AH-1W (4 pilots total?) Special forces teams? spotters?

    • IronButterfly

      Marco I think your assumptions are right. Likely follow on operations of Marine Recons or Navy Seals in the MVs to take out some very specific targets and maybe lay the ground work for Libyan government troops to make a move, although if that were the case I think you would see a much larger strike continuing for days.

    • The Dude

      This is my same question? MV-22 are in there only for an eventually rescue mission….or for deploy a special force team????

    • NavelGazer

      Would they have been CSAR in case any of the AH-1Ws were shot down? I expect you would want a maximum effort to recover the pilots if anything happened.

    • Roger Cobb

      The osprey is the parent command. The other units reinforce them for the meu. They were most likely parked on the boat while the cobras made their attack. The 53s and harriers were also not involved but still apart of the meu.

      • Marco

        According to the report here, those 3 MV-22s were flying not on the deck…

    • Rusty Shackleford

      The Black Knights here at MCAS New River specialize in providing assault support of combat troops for amphibious operations (MARSOC).

    • Cody3/75

      Probably MARSOC guys on board but still just there for CSAR. They just want to make sure they have the ass available to pull pilots out under circumstances that don’t include an empty desert with pilots waiting to catch a ride.

      Much better ways to get guys into country than air assault operations.