Planes launched off US car­rier hit IS mil­i­tants

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

One after another, fighter jets cat­a­pult from the flight deck of the USS Eisen­hower, a thou­sand-foot Amer­i­can air­craft car­rier, af­ter­burn­ers glow­ing am­ber above the blue Per­sian Gulf, on their way north­west to join the fight in Iraq and Syria against the Is­lamic State group. The fighter jets re­fuel on the way be­fore re­ceiv­ing from coali­tion part­ners tar­gets like con­voys, hide­outs and mor­tar po­si­tions in IS-con­trolled ter­ri­to­ries such as Mo­sul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, said Rear Adm. James Mal­loy, com­man­der of the Eisen­hower car­rier strike group. From his of­fice aboard the USS Eisen­hower, Mal­loy de­scribed coali­tion suc­cess around Mo­sul while cau­tion­ing that vic­tory is close at hand.

“Mo­sul is the last large city in Iraq that is held by Daesh, but Daesh is by no means fin­ished in Iraq, so our mis­sion in Iraq won’t end as Mo­sul falls,” he said, us­ing the Ara­bic acro­nym for IS. While inter-coali­tion co­or­di­na­tion was “seam­less,” com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Rus­sia was lim­ited to “de­con­flic­tion,” Mal­loy said. “There’s no co­or­di­na­tion there be­cause the goals are not the same,” the ad­mi­ral said. The car­rier’s cap­tain Paul Spedero said sor­ties from the Eisen­hower have dropped nearly 1,100 bombs on IS tar­gets since June when the ship en­tered the Per­sian Gulf after launch­ing strikes from the eastern Mediter­ranean.

The ship’s 5,200 sailors arm, repair, launch and re­cover 7-20 Su­per Hor­net F18 fighter jets every day that drop on av­er­age 10 bombs each or re­con­noi­ter in sup­port of anti-IS coali­tion forces. The crew cat­a­pults the jets from the ship at 145mph, and they use a hook and ca­ble to rapidly catch the fighter jets on the 500-foot long car­rier deck. “For a cat­a­pult shot, if you think about a Porsche 911, zero to 60 in about 2.5 seconds, these air­craft will go from 0 to 145 miles per hour in 2.5 seconds,” said com­man­der Jeremy Ri­fas, the car­rier’s air boss, from in­side the ship’s con­trol tower over­look­ing launches.

The fight­ers on these sor­ties head north by north­west for an hour be­fore re­fu­el­ing midair and then ap­proach­ing coali­tion ground forces that pro­vide the pi­lots with tar­gets for airstrikes or re­con­nais­sance. “They go into harm’s way every sin­gle time, every sin­gle mis­sion. I don’t re­ally close my eyes un­til 2300 when the last one comes back,” ad­mi­ral Mal­loy said. The US-led coali­tion has flown more than 125,000 sor­ties in Iraq and Syria since Op­er­a­tion In­her­ent Re­solve be­gan in Aug 8, 2014, ac­cord­ing to the US Depart­ment of De­fense. —AP

US Navy fighter jet takes off from the deck of the USS Dwight D Eisen­hower air­craft car­rier. The car­rier is cur­rently de­ployed in the Gulf, supporting Op­er­a­tion In­her­ent Re­solve, the mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion against Is­lamic State ex­trem­ists in Syria and Iraq. —AP ABOARD THE USS EISEN­HOWER:

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