Last year, naval aviation contributed a wide range of capabilities to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) that surpassed precedents set in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Employment of sea-based aviation for "24/7" close air support to coalition forces was reintroduced in Iraq. Seven carrier battle groups (CVBGs)—now called carrier strike groups—and two seven-ship amphibious ready groups deployed to the region packed with naval aviation assets. When negotiations to position land-based aviation in Turkey fell through, two CVBGs operated from the eastern Mediterranean to support Army special forces in northern Iraq.
U.S. Naval Aircraft and Weapon Developments
By David L. Parsons