The US Marine Corps’ (USMC) AV-8B Harriers from the Wasp-class amphibious ship USS Boxer (LHD-4) in the Arabian Gulf have joined the fight against terrorist group, ISIS.
The fighter jets will join the strike aircraft operating from USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) in the Mediterranean Sea.
The development marks the US Navy’s first combat strike missions from warships in two different operational theatres in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR).
The Harrier aircraft are assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 166, which is the aviation combat element of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), embarked in the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).
US Naval Forces Central Command commander vice-admiral Kevin Donegan said: "These missions from the flight decks of USS Boxer, like those from the USS Harry S Truman, demonstrate the inherent flexibility of naval forces.
"Today, US naval forces are striking ISIL simultaneously from both the Mediterranean and the Arabian Gulf.
"Of course the engine of this effort is our nation’s sailors and marines serving with the USS Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit; they, together with our joint and coalition partners, are dismantling and rolling back terrorist networks in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere."
The Boxer ARG includes more than 4,500 sailors and marines, a command ship, amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), amphibious transport dock USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49).
Besides supporting OIR, the Boxer ARG team is involved in theatre security cooperation efforts and maritime security operations throughout the 5th Fleet.
Image: An AV-8B Harrier II launches from USS Boxer. Photo: courtesy of US Navy video by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brett Anderson/Released.