US and UK Carrier Strike Groups Conduct Joint Interoperability Flights

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Two F-35B Lightning II from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, embarked on the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08); and two F-35C Lightning II assigned to Strike Fight Squadron (VFA) 147, an EA-18G Growler, assigned to U.S. Navy Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 136, and an F/A-18E Super Hornet, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 192, embarked on aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), conduct mid-air refueling in support of joint interoperability flights between Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group (VINCSG) and U.K. Carrier Strike Group (CSG-21), Aug. 26, 2021. (U.S. Navy photo)

On Aug. 26, fifth and fourth-generation aircraft assigned to the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group (VINCSG), along with Carrier Air Wing Two (CVW-2), and the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 21 conducted joint interoperability flights in the United States Navy’s 7th Fleet.

During the joint interoperability flights, the aircraft conducted missions to validate joint integration techniques, tactics, and procedures; including mid-air refuelling. This is the first time that VINCSG and CSG-21 have operated together.

“In a very short amount of time, we were able to seamlessly combine the collective 5th generation capabilities of joint strike fighter aircraft from two services and a partner nation together with the rest of the advanced capabilities of our entire air wing,” said Capt. Tommy Locke, commander, CVW-2. “Our strike group and air wing arrived in the Indo-Pacific ready to demonstrate the value of having agile 5th generation maritime power in the region – and make no doubt, we are ready to win.”

Participating aircraft from CVW-2 include four F-35C Lightning IIs from Strike Fight Squadron (VFA) 147; five F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadrons (VFA) 2 and 192; two EA-18G Growlers, from Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 136; and one E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, from Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 113.

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An Ea-18G Growler, Assigned To The “Gauntlets” Of Electronic Attack Squadron (Vaq) 136, Awaits Clearance On The Flight Deck Aboard Nimitz-Class Aircraft Carrier Uss Carl Vinson (Cvn 70), August 26, 2021. (U.s. Navy Photo)

Participating CSG-21 aircraft include two U.S. F-35Bs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211; and two F-35Bs from United Kingdom’s No. 617 Squadron.

This was the first training opportunity CSG-21 had to engage with the F-35 “C” model, assigned to CVW-2. The two F-35B squadrons have been deployed together aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth for her inaugural, global deployment, demonstrating the interoperability the F-35 provides.

“Integrating the United Kingdom and U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs into a flight with U.S. Navy F-35Cs continues to reinforce the tactical flexibility and interoperability of the F-35,” said Col. Simon Doran, U.S. Senior National Representative to the UK CSG. “Additionally, the mission further demonstrates the F-35s ability to support distributed maritime operations.”

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