USS KEARSARGE, At Sea (NNS) -- AV/8B Harriers from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 261 arrived aboard amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) May 14 as part of the Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX).
The Harriers are aboard Kearsarge supporting COMPTUEX, a pre-deployment certification that prepares an Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) for an overseas deployment. The exercise consists of multiple scenarios conducted over a three-week time period.
"During COMPTUEX, Harriers are being used for close combat air support," said Marine Cpl. Kevin Cinko, of HMM 261.
"During COMPTUEX, the Harriers will provide support for operations performed by the 22nd MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit)," said Marine Capt. Nick Stewart, an HMM 261 Harrier pilot.
The overall mission of the Harrier "jump jet" is to provide offensive air support to the Marines. Harriers are able to provide this support due to their ability to attack and destroy surface and air targets, escort helicopters, and conduct other air operations as directed.
While on board Kearsarge, Harrier pilots will spend their time training on vertical take offs and landings. They will also work on their day and night landing qualification in preparation for a scheduled six-month deployment later this year.
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