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

160724-M-MK246-004 MEDITERRANEAN SEA (July 24,2016) An AH-1W Super Cobra with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264 (Reinforced), 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), takes off from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD-1) on July 24, 2016. The 22nd MEU, deployed with the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group, is conducting naval operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. John A. Hamilton Jr.)

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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About David Cenciotti 3631 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.