During nearly four decades, the jet underwent a series of upgrades: the pure attack Étendard IVMs were retired from French service whilst the SEM became the French Navy’s primary maritime strike and reconnaissance aircraft, capable to deliver PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions).
Along with the French Navy, also Iraq and Argentina operated the Super Étendard in combat: the first used it for maritime attack against oil tankers and merchant shipping during the Iraq-Iran War; the second flew the aircraft as Exocet anti-ship missile platform during the 1982 Falklands War (Malvinas for the Argentine).
The video offers the usual collection of cool footage: air combat, formation flying, low level flying, high and low altitude air-to-air refueling (including “buddy” refueling from another Super Hornet), firing practice and much “condensation clouds” generated during high-g maneuvering.
During the deployment the F/A-18F Super Hornets of VFA-2 took also part in the 56th edition of UNITAS, the U.S. Navy‘s longest annual multinational maritime exercise held in two phases: UNITAS Pacific, hosted by Chile, in October 2015 and UNITAS Atlantic, hosted by Brazil in November 2015.
The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (IKE CSG) supports the Great Green Fleet initiative.
The USS Eisenhower and the ship of its CSG entered the Mediterranean Sea through the Strait of Gibraltar on Jun. 13, 2016.
The IKE CSG consists of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3, guided-missile cruisers USS San Jacinto (CG 56) and USS Monterey (CG 61), and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26 with its associated guided-missile destroyers USS Roosevelt (DDG 80), USS Mason (DDG 87), USS Nitze (DDG 94) and USS Stout (DDG 55).
The presence of two flattops demonstrates the mobility, flexibility and power projection capability of the USN as well as Washington’s commitment to safety and security in the region.
However, IKE CSG is not operating in the Med to pound Islamic State targets, at least for the moment: as part of the Great Green Fleet Initiative, which emphasizes use of energy conservation measures as a key combat enabler to allow ships to go farther, stay longer and deliver more firepower, USS Eisenhower will conduct Great Green Fleet operations in Europe. These will involve a multi-day passing exercise (PASSEX) with units of the Italian Navy’s Flotta Verde highlighting energy conservation operations involving refueling at sea (RAS) event during which an Italian oiler will refuel IKE CSG ships with advanced alternative fuel (F76 equivalent).
According to the DoD “the centerpiece of the Great Green Fleet is a Carrier Strike Group (CSG) that deploys on alternative fuels, including nuclear power for the carrier and a blend of advanced biofuel made from beef fat and traditional petroleum for its escort ships. These biofuels have been procured by DON [Department Of Navy] at prices that are on par with conventional fuels, as required by law, and are certified as “drop-in” replacements that require no engine modifications or changes to operational procedures. The CSG also uses energy-efficient technologies and operating procedures referred to as Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) during the course of its normal operations.”
Even though the IKE CSG does not take part in the raids, the Truman is not the only naval aviation force conducting air strikes on Daesh: U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers flying from USS Boxer (LHD 4) in the Arabian Gulf joined have joined Operation Inherent Resolve, marking the first naval aviation combat strike missions of OIR launched from Navy warships in two different operational theaters.
One day after the U.S. Navy launched the first strikes from the Mediterranean a Russian Tu-142, an aircraft developed for reconnaissance and Anti-Submarine Warfare, was spotted over Aleppo, Syria.
The following video, allegedly filmed on Jun. 5, 2016, at Aleppo, Syria clearly shows a Russian Bear flying overhead.
Based on the barely visible search radar underneath the fuselage and the characteristic tail with a MAD (Magnetic Anomaly Detector) boom, the aircraft seems to be a Tu-142M “Bear F”, a reconnaissance and ASW variant derived from the iconic Tu-95 Bear bomber.
Whilst the “standard” Tu-95s have already been used to carry out air strikes against Syrian ground targets beginning in November last year, the one spotted over Aleppo would be (if confirmed) the first Tu-142 to take part in the air war over Syria.
As said the Tu-142 was developed as a maritime patrol and anti-submarine aircraft. However, it is believed to be able to carry different sensor packages and some believe the Bear F could be used as an ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) platform, to pinpoint targets for tactical strike aircraft.
USS Harry S. Truman launched strikes against ISIL from the Mediterranean Sea. Also a response to Russia growing influence in the region.
On Jun. 3, the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Truman launched air strikes against ISIL position from the Mediterranean sea, marking the first time a carrier conducted combat operations from the 6th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) since 2003.
The Truman CSG (Carrier Strike Group) tour of duty, that has also included operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, in the Persian Gulf within the 5th Fleet AOR, has been recently extended by 1 month to fill the gap until the replacement carrier (USS Eisenhower) arrives. The extended tour of duty enables Truman to support US-led coalition’s air campaign against Daesh from the Med.
Until yesterday and for the last 13 years, the air strikes against targets in Iraq or Syria have always been launched by aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf or Indian Ocean with the Med used only as a transit “corridor” to Suez.
The raids from the Mediterranean Sea have opened a new direction of attack against the terrorist target in what many analysts consider an answer to Russia’s military presence in the region. In November 2015, two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack bombers departed from a base in northwest Russia for a 13,000km journey around Europe, and launched cruise missiles against ground targets in Syria from over the Mediterranean Sea (while being escorted, approaching Syria, by at least three Su-30SM Flankers launched Latakia): a true air power demonstration.
The video below shows VFA-103 F/A-18F Super Hornets and VFA-25 F/A-18E Hornets launch (with 2x JDAM – Joint Direct Attack Munitions under the right wing and an ATFLIR pod and a laser-guided GBU under the left one) to carry out the first U.S. Navy air strikes from the Mediterranean Sea. The tactical warplanes were supported by VAW-117 E-2C Hawkeye.