As Iraqi forces fight to turn the tide against ISIS militants, American airpower provides support from the air. And a significant portion of that power is provided by Navy combat aircraft.
In a recent report in the New York Times, Times’ journalists went aboard the USS Carl Vinson to report on that effort. The Times details how Navy F/A-18 Hornets fly more than a dozen sorties a day against ISIS targets. In all, as much a 25% of the 1,200 total combat sorties flown against ISIS involve Naval air assets.
The strikes are guided indirectly; Iraqi troops work with U.S. special operations personnel at Iraqi command centers acting as controllers, who help pilots hone in on targets. Navy pilots must make the six-hour round trip journey, often refueling in midair three or more times. Cmdr. Eric Doyle, an F/A-18 pilot, told the New York Times that the nature of the strike operations can change rapidly: “It can be pretty boring, then all of sudden it gets heated and you’ve got a whole lot of work to do in 120 seconds.”