Friday, December 18, 2009

A Joint Connection in the Skies Over Afghanistan

An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Black Aces of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 41 refuels from a U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender aircraft. The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is on a deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Graham Scarbro/Released)

USS NIMITZ, At Sea (NNS) -- Air Force tankers provide a vital in-flight refueling lifeline to extend Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 missions over Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

CVW 11 aircraft assigned to the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) leave the flight deck from hundreds of miles away to support troops on the ground in Afghanistan. The KC-10A Extender is an airborne gas station capable of delivering 350,000 pounds of fuel per mission to U.S. and coalition aircraft.

"We work very well with our coalition partners both in the air, U.S. Air Force and other coalition air forces from the region, and with the troops on the ground," said Rear Adm. John W. Miller, commander, Nimitz Carrier Strike Group/Carrier Strike Group 11, "We are all on the same team and we are all trying to accomplish the same mission."

CVW 11 aviators work with Army air controllers on the ground and Air Force assets in the sky to provide joint precision support to counter insurgency operations.

"Without the ability to utilize joint tanker operations we would be unable to provide the continuous un-interrupted support of ground forces in Afghanistan," said Lt. Tommy Kolwicz, assistant operations officer for Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 97.

Since entering the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Operations Sept. 18., CVW 11 has flown more than 1,800 sorties and totaled more than 10,000 cumulative flight hours in support of OEF.

Nimitz provides 30 percent of the close air support to the coalition force in Afghanistan.

Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is comprised of Nimitz, embarked CVW 11, embarked Destroyer Squadron 23, and the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Chosin. Ships assigned to Destroyer Squadron 23 include the destroyers USS Pinckney, USS Sampson and the frigate USS Rentz.

Squadrons from CVW 11 include the "Black Aces" of Strike Fighter Squadron 41, the "Tophatters" of VFA 14, the "Warhawks" of VFA 97, the "Sidewinders" of VFA 86, the "Indians" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 6, the "Black Ravens" of Electronic Attack Squadron 135, the "Providers" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30 and the "Wallbangers" of Carrier Airborne Command and Control Squadron 117.

Helicopter detachments include the "Easy Riders" of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light 37, the "Battle Cats" of HSL 43, the "Wolfpack" of HSL 45, the "Scorpions" of HSL 49 and the "Wildcards" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23. Also accompanying the Nimitz CSG are Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11 and the USNS Bridge.