Two F-15E Strike Eagles fly over the guided-missile destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) during an Air Force-Navy joint training exercise in the Persian Gulf on July 24, 2019. Navy photo by MC3 Maxwell Anderson.
This story was updated on July 31, 2019, at 12:16 p.m. EST.
The Air Force and Navy practiced using USAF jets to support and defend American surface ships during a July 24 exercise in the Persian Gulf, the Air Force said in a release.
F-15Es with the 336th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Al Dhafra AB, United Arab Emirates, worked with a Naval Forces Central Command P-3C Orion anti-submarine warfare patrol aircraft and the destroyer USS Gonzalez, practicing “maritime air control and dynamic targeting,” the release said.
The 336th EFS fighters, which arrived in the UAE in June, are currently performing Surface Combat Air Patrol operations—including patrols over the Persian Gulf and aerial escorts of Navy vessels crossing the Strait of Hormuz—to support “free and open maritime commerce in the region,” the squadron said in a July 31 release.
The Gonzalez is deployed to safeguard ships’ freedom to navigate through the Gulf as part of Combined Task Force 55.
“By exercising the full operational process, we can identify and correct any issues that would slow or hinder rapid combat capability and seamless integration,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Benjamin Davidson, chief of AFCENT’s Forces Division. Davidson said the rehearsal will also help NAVCENT and AFCENT better communicate and coordinate with one another in “real-world” operations.
AFCENT did not respond to a request for further details.
The exercise comes as US forces in the region manage tensions over economic sanctions against Iran, as well as tit-for-tat seizures of ships and shoot-downs of drones in and around the Strait of Hormuz.