Naval Air: Enterprise All Over


November21, 2006: The American carrier USS Enterprise recently returned from 30 weeks at sea. It was an unusual voyage, as the carrier managed to serve in four different fleets (2nd, 6th, 5th and 7th) along the way, as well as seeing combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Enterprise aircraft only dropped four bombs in Iraq, while dropping 133 in Afghanistan ( during a six week period of supplying air support for the fighting there). Enterprise aircraft were in the air for 23,000 hours (52 percent of the time in a combat zone) during those 30 weeks. The Afghan operations were the most strenuous, because Afghanistan is landlocked, and pilots must fly far inland to reach the combat zones. Those sorties lasted six hours or more, and an average of 17 aircraft a day were sent in. Aircraft did reconnaissance for troops on the ground, as well as dropping bombs. In Iraq, aircraft spent nearly all their time doing recon, or electronic warfare (zapping roadside bomb detonators, or searching for enemy transmissions.) One unusual aspect of this voyage was that no one was killed. Normally, there is at least one death on a deployment that long. The Enterprise was escorted by a cruiser, destroyer and frigate.


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