Pictured on board of the USS Nimitz while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 14 "Tophatters" was the second squadron that deployed with the F/A-18E Super Hornet, but the first that deployed together with a sister squadron that was equipped with the F/A-18F.
Seen from the bow of the USS Enterpise (CVN-65), this flight line of Hornets. Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 86 Sidewinders transferred from the legacy Hornet, like this one seen on the picture, to F/A-18E Super Hornet in 2011.
New refueling old... the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet refuels an S-3B Viking overhead the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) during operations in the Persian Gulf. The Super Hornet replaced the Viking in this role from 2007 onwards. In the near future, the refueling task will be transferred to the Boeing MQ-25 Stingray, an unmanned aerial system (UAS) that will deploy with a Carrier Air Wing. This relieves the Super Hornet a bit from their busy multi-role task.
Within several Carrier Air Wings, the US Marine Corps embedded some F/A-18C Hornet squadrons. Within Carrier Air Wing ONE in 2007 this was Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 251 Thunderbolts. This baby Hornet roars off the deck of the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) during Operation Iraqi Freedom. So close with this incredible speed... a challenge to photograph... this one was made with 1/2000 sec, F/4,0, ISO 320, with only 50mm.
The cat launch... you have to see it (and feel it)! Especially from deck level near one of the four steam catapults of an American super carrier. The steam pressure builds up and pushes an average aircraft in just two seconds from 0 mph to some 150 mph (240 km/u) in 310 feet (94 m) with up to 3.5g's (recalculating this acceleration compared to an average car, that would be something as an acceleration from 0 mph to 60 mph (100km/u) in 0,8 sec!
The squadron commanders aircraft on the cat of the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The ship was sailing in the Persian Gulf and operations continued 24/7 with multiple launches and recoveries during the day. This baby Hornet was launched during first light.
There are Tomcats and there are beautiful Tomcats. A classic picture of a towed Tomcat over the deck of the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). The aircraft was on its way to the the rear of the flight deck where it was positioned for an upcoming morning launch. Many Tomcats were scrapped at AMARG to prevent spare parts feeding to Iran. Luckily, this beauty was relieved from that fate. Since September 2006, 164342 is preserved at the Wings over Miami Museum at Kendall (FL).
C-2A about to touch down at the USS Theordore Roosevelt (CVN-71), closely observed by three F-14Ds. The Carrier On-board Delivery aircraft is a true work horse and flies all day long between the carrier and shore bases to supply the floating city rotating personnel, food, spare parts, post, journalists (like me), general cargo, and so on. Unfortunately, in due time, these beautiful prop planes will be replaced by CMV-22B Osprey tiltrotors.
Green shirts on deck of a US aircraft carrier are Air wing maintenance and quality control personnel, catapult and arresting gear crews, Visual Landing Aid electricians, Hook Runners, Cargo-handling personnel, Ground Support Equipment (GSE) troubleshooters, Photographer's mates and Helicopter landing signal enlisted personnel (LSE) and Hook Up man (ensures that aircraft launchbar (left) and holdback fitting (right) are properly seated in the catapult). This green shirt on board the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) verifies the EA-6B weight with the pilot and the catapult crew prior to launch.
The very first F/A-18F cruise took place on board the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) in 2003. Together with sister squadron VFA-14 Tophatters (operating the F/A-18E), VFA-41 Black Aces flew numbers of missions from the Nimitz in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This F/A-18F of the Black Aces is being prepped for the launch and is just lowering its folded wings.
A surprise and completely contrasting with the grey mass on board the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) was this Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 97 "Warhawks" F/A-18A Hornet. One of the Warhawks Hornets went broke during the Operation Iraqi Freedom deployment, so a replacement aircraft was flown in, and this appeared to be a former US Navy adversary aircraft that served the Naval Strike Air Warfare Center (NSAWC, Top Gun) from NAS Fallon (NV).
Two HH-60H, also nicknamed Rescue Hawks, were assigned to a Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadrons within an Air Wing. These special equipped Seahawks gave the Carrier Air Wing commanders their own Combat Search and Rescue capability. The HH-60H is easy to recognize by its FLIR extension, mounted on a gimbal on its nose. This Forward Looking InfraRed sensor enabled the pilots to see through darkness, haze, smoke and poor weather. The FLIR can also be used to target Hellfire missiles, that could be mounted on specially-fitted pylons. This camo HH-60H was seen on board the USS Nimitz (CVN-68).
Pictured on board of the USS Nimitz (CVN_68) this Viking shows clearly its identity, Sea Control "Squadron (VS) 29, nicknamed Dragonfires. Although both in an almost boring grey color scheme, NH-700 is in stark contrast to its unmarked squadron mate 159766/NH-705.
Carrier clearly speeding up to create wind over the flight deck, aircraft engines are starting, awaiting action on board the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) in the Persian Gulf. The Vikings are among the first to leave the flight deck, just to observe (and clear) the area of surface contacts.