Naval Air: June 15, 2003


Although the U.S. Navy has had large deck amphibious carriers for over two decades, they have never had a chance to use these ships to launch Harrier vertical take off warplanes on a large scale. But in Iraq, there was an opportunity. Once the marines carried on the LHDs Bataan were put ashore, the ship spent the rest of the campaign supporting 24 AV8B Harriers. These aircraft were in the air 1,400 hours and dropped 122 tons of 500 and 1000 pound bombs. During the Afghanistan operation, the Bataan only carried it's normal load of six Harriers, which dropped 42 tons of bombs. Because the flight deck was in use most of the time for combat operations, supplies were brought in using the Bataans three hovercraft, instead of using helicopters. The Harriers were used exclusively for close support of the troops, and 14 of the Harriers were made ready (fueled and armed for take off) at all times. 




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