U.S. fighter jets on Friday launched the first strikes against Islamic State targets from an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean Sea since the start of the two-year campaign against the militant group, the U.S. Navy said.
The jets flew from the USS Harry S. Truman after the ship moved into the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal, marking the first air strikes conducted by a carrier group in that region since the Iraq war began in 2003, Navy officials said.
Previous strikes were launched solely by U.S. and allied pilots from carriers in the Gulf or from land bases in Bahrain, Turkey and other countries.
— U.S. Navy (@USNavy) June 3, 2016
“While the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is in the 6th Fleet area of operations, they continue to project power ashore against terrorists and violent extremists,” said Vice Adm. James Foggo III, Commander, in a statement from U.S. 6th Fleet. “This exemplifies our Navy’s mobility, flexibility and adaptability, as well as our commitment to execute a full range of military operations in concert with our indispensable European Allies and partners,” he added.
Friday’s airstrikes mark the first time an American carrier has hit targets on the ground from the Mediterranean since 2003, when the USS Truman was deployed in the region during the US invasion in Iraq.
In October, after the aircraft carrier the USS Theodore Roosevelt left the Gulf, the United States did not have a carrier in the region until the Truman arrived that winter. The two month gap in carrier coverage was a first since 2007. With the Truman now in the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf is once again absent a U.S. carrier group.