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Ike CSG, Air Force Come Together for Air Defense Exercise

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS160906-06
Release Date: 9/6/2016 1:06:00 PM

By By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Casey J. Hopkins, Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs

ARABIAN GULF (NNS) -- The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (Ike CSG) and the U.S. Air Force conducted a joint air defense exercise (ADEX) in the Arabian Gulf Aug. 29.

Aircraft and ships participate in the exercise to improve integration of Navy and Air Force assets, maintain unit proficiency and enhance interoperability between the joint forces.

Participating units include two F/A-18E Super Hornets assigned to the Sidewinders of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 86, one F/A-18C from the Wildcats of VFA-131, one F/A-18F from the Fighting Swordsmen of VFA-32, one E-2C Hawkeye assigned to the Screwtops of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 123, two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors from the Dicemen of the 90th Fighter Squadron (90 FS) and the guided-missile cruisers USS San Jacinto (CG 56) and USS Monterey (CG 61).

"Commander Task Force (CTF) 50 and assigned assets had the privilege of conducting the first joint Air Defense Exercise (ADEX) in the Arabian Gulf in over a year," said Capt. Dennis Velez, air and missile defense commander for Ike CSG and the commanding officer of the guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56). "This event successfully increased San Jacinto's air defense proficiency while strengthening the United States Navy/Air Force relationship in support of air and missile defense of the Arabian Gulf."

The two cruisers were tested in their ability to conduct air defense.

"Their mission is to screen and protect the high value unit from air threats and provide the alternate air intercept controllers (AIC) if the E-2C could not," said Lt. Mathew Kessler, who served as the liaison officer between the carrier and San Jacinto while embarked on Ike.

One major goal of the monthly exercise was to test the preparedness of each participating entity at carrying out the warfare commander's guidance by simulating higher threat levels and weapons postures using theoretical threats.

"Throughout the mission, planning, execution and debrief process we are constantly learning and finding out what works and areas we can focus on for improvement," said Lt. Paul Garcia, a pilot and the training officer for VFA-86. "From our cruisers and destroyers, strike warfare commanders and watch standers, to the squadrons and aircrew flying in the events, we get the opportunity to practice like we would fight."

Working side-by-side, both the Navy and Air Force were able to gain a better comprehension of each other's tactics and capabilities while reinforcing the U.S. military's commitment to maintain a sustainable defensive presence in support of its regional and coalition partners, provide the flexibility to react to possible crises and safeguard the free flow of traffic in waterways and ground transit routes critical to the global economy.

The Ike CSG is deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

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