France is preparing to redeploy its Charles De Gaulle aircraft carrier to rejoin the fight against ISIS, providing a plus-up in airpower available to the coalition as it prepares to move on Mosul and Raqqa. Air Force Col. John Dorrian, spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said during a Thursday briefing that the carrier will join the mission “in the near future.” France pledged the deployment earlier this summer during a meeting of defense leaders of the coalition nations. The carrier will join a fight that has seen an increase in strikes. Coalition aircraft are targeting the ISIS-held city of Mosul, killing more than a dozen ISIS leaders in that city alone over the past 60 days, Dorrian said. “These strikes have a disruptive effect on the enemy command and control, which is important in setting conditions for Mosul’s liberation,” he said. Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of the coalition, told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday the Mosul battle is expected to begin within the next month. There’s between 3,000 and 4,500 fighters remaining in the city, and Iraqi Security Forces and Peshmerga fighters will need between eight and 12 battalions for the fight, Dorrian said.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.