The AV-8B Harrier aircraft with the US Marine Corps' (USMC) Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (VMM) 161 (reinforced) have conducted strike missions in Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR).
Launched from the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), the Harriers executed strike missions to support the multinational coalition participating in OIR in the US Central Command's area of responsibility.
VMM-161 is the aviation combat element of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
The MEU is currently embarked with the Essex Amphibious Ready Group and deployed to maintain regional security in the US 5th Fleet area of operations.
Commanding officer of the 15th MEU colonel Vance L Cryer said: "The MEU's ability to source combat sorties from the Essex, while simultaneously supporting training and operations in four other countries on opposite sides of the theatre, is a clear demonstration of the 15th MEU's and Essex ARG's ability to provide flexible, responsive options to the combatant commander and the coalition fighting ISIL.
In addition, the MEU's marines and sailors are deployed to several other locations throughout the 5th Fleet AOR in order to execute sustainment training and engage with regional partners.
The AV-8B Harrier aircraft features day and night operability and is fitted with head-up and head-down displays, a digital moving map, an inertial navigation system (INS), and a hands-on throttle and stick system.
Image: A US Marine Corps' AV-8B Harrier II hovering. Photo: courtesy of D Miller from IL USA.