American Carrier Air Power at the Dawn of a New Century by Benjamin S. Lambert

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By Benjamin S. Lambert

Contemporary campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq have verified that American service air strength can behavior coordinated deepstrike missions way past coastal reaches, supplying round the clock aim assurance, constantly actual goal assault, and a number of winning targer assaults in step with sortie.

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Kennedy arrived on scene on March 9, in the midst of Anaconda’s heaviest fighting, and remained as a single-carrier presence until well after the air war ended. As the terrorist attacks were taking place on September 11, 2001, CVW-9 in John C. Stennis was in the midst of conducting its final predeployment workups at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC) at Naval Air Station (NAS) Fallon, Nevada. Ini- 22 American Carrier Air Power at the Dawn of a New Century tially slated for a January 2002 deployment, Stennis was promptly rescheduled to deploy on November 12 as CVW-9 accelerated its workup training at Fallon, concentrating on aircrew strike-lead certification in a now-abbreviated Air Interdiction Mission Commander course stressing classic Navy Alpha strike mission profiles and aiming for a start-of-operations date of December 17.

Over the course of that three-week period of major combat, the five carriers—with a sixth en route to the region to replace one, a seventh held in reserve in the Western Pacific, and an eighth also deployed and available for tasking—conducted around-the-clock operations against Saddam Hussein’s forces in Iraq. S. Air Force and British Royal Air Force (RAF) long-range tankers to provide multiple inflight refuelings, combat aircraft from the two carriers operating in the eastern Mediterranean flew repeated deep-strike missions that entailed durations of as long as ten hours, in some cases.

28. 14 American Carrier Air Power at the Dawn of a New Century Two separate disciplines were consecutively employed in conducting carrier-based strike operations during Enduring Freedom. The first of these, the familiar and classic air-wing strike, was targetspecific and involved complex planning and large-force tactics. It predominated during the first week and a half of the campaign. During these initial attacks, carrier air-wing weapons drops mainly featured precision munitions delivered against prebriefed fixed targets.

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