ABOARD USS ENTERPRISE (NNS) -- Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 stationed aboard USS Enterprise (CVN 65) flew 14 missions in the skies over Afghanistan and provided their heaviest day of close air support to International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops and other coalition forces on the ground as part of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Sept. 20.
F/A-18F Super Hornets from the "Checkmates" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211, based in Virginia Beach, Va., supported both ISAF and other coalition ground forces in multiple locations north of Kandahar, Afghanistan. The Navy's latest generation of fighter/attack aircraft completed multiple strafing runs against Taliban extremists using the aircraft's M61A1 20mm gatling gun and ended the engagement using Guided Bomb Unit (GBU) 12 weapons. The GBU-12 is a general-purpose, laser-guided 500-pound bomb.
Later that day, the Enterprise-based "Checkmates" attacked a compound north of Kandahar. Known as a haven for Taliban extremists, the compound was being used to mount operations against coalition ground forces at the time of the attack. The compound was destroyed with GBU-12 weapons. After refueling, "Checkmates" aircraft flew multiple show-of-force missions north of Kandahar against other Taliban extremists who were attacking coalition ground forces with small arms fire.
F/A-18C Hornets from the "Sidewinders" of VFA-86, based in Beaufort, S.C., performed multiple strafing runs against Taliban extremists near Kandahar. The Enterprise-based aircraft expended GBU-12 weapons against the extremists, ending the engagement.
The "Sidewinders" continued their missions later that day as they provided support for ISAF ground convoys and coalition troops. When ground controllers notified the Enterprise-based aircraft a Taliban compound used for offensive action against ISAF and coalition ground forces had been identified north of Kandahar, "Sidewinders" Hornets aircraft expended multiple GBU-12 weapons against the fortification, destroying the target.
Since close air support missions over Afghanistan began Sept. 3, Enterprise-based aircraft have focused their efforts on protecting ISAF and coalition ground forces near Kandahar and have flown more than 240 sorties and delivered more than 75 precision weapons against Taliban extremists in support of Operations Medusa and Mountain Fury.
Other squadrons of CVW-1 include the "Knighthawks" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 136, the "Thunderbolts" of Marine Strike Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 251, the "Screwtops" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 123, the "Rooks" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 137, the "Maulers" of Sea Control Squadron (VS) 32, the "Rawhides" of Carrier Logistics Support (VRC) 40 and the "Dragonslayers" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 11.
Enterprise is the flagship in the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, which includes the cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), destroyer USS McFaul (DDG 74), frigate USS Nicholas (FFG 47), all based in Norfolk, the attack submarine USS Alexandria (SSN 757), homeported in Groton, Conn., and the fast-combat supply ship USNS Supply (T-AOE 6), homeported in Earle, N.J.
The nuclear-powered Enterprise and embarked Carrier Air Wing 1 departed Naval Station Norfolk May 2 for a regularly scheduled six-month deployment in support of the global war on terrorism.
The Enterprise Strike Group is currently operating in the northern Arabian Sea in support of maritime security operations and Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.
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