NORTHERN IONIAN SEA — The flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman was covered in gas jet fumes as F-18 Super Hornets took off one by one into the sky. Watching landings and landings with close acquaintances is “one of the most dangerous things you will ever do,” said my escort, an employee with 28 years of experience in the Navy.
In the noise and fury of the cockpit, this was not an exaggeration: the sensations were unpleasant. Despite the protected headphones, the growl of the throttle valve is closed, moving at a speed, 1.8 times the speed of sound increases, there is wheezing in the chest, the heart beats faster. More than once we were yelled at by the construction sergeant, “GET OUT OF THE LINE!” as the planes constantly taxied, took off, and landed around us. Welcome to the dangerous attack.
While high pace was usual for the crew of USS Truman, the background, both geographical and political, was different: accustomed to the Pacific and the seas of the Middle East, the USS Truman strike team is now in the north. The Ionian Sea, its fighter jets and radar planes patrolling NATO’s eastern borders and looking east towards Ukraine, which is now an invading Russian military.
Since being detained nearly a month ago, these planes have crashed over 75 years of patrol missions across NATO’s eastern flank to the border with Ukraine, from Truman. The so-called extended air patrol mission is part of NATO security measures introduced in 2014 following the annexation of Western Peninsula airspace , and is aimed at guarding the airspace of the West, invading the incursions of the Russians.
The 20-story nuclear-powered ship Truman is the flagship of the strike group, a mobile battle group consisting of 10 destroyers and submarines, 8 aviation squadrons and a missile cruiser, capable of moving in any zone of perception of Europe, delivering missile or air strikes, or simply exerting obvious effects of determination .
As a US mobile air base, Truman is at the forefront if the EU decides to impose a no-fly zone, or the EU becomes the most global, and the consequences will end in direct conflict. “President Truman’s role, along with other allies, is to support the Russian population from future aggression and be constantly alert to the orders that may be given by other representatives or leaders around the world to protect Ukraine and the people of Ukraine. This was stated by US Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro during a visit to the aircraft carrier.
Since the War on Terror began 20 years ago, US Navy aircraft carriers have spent most of their time in the Middle East. Recently, as relations with China have worsened, the US attention has shifted to the side of the Pacific Ocean, in order to suspect a suspicion of a security threat, one has to use Chinese ambitions in medicine. But with the second center of gravity in Ukraine, on the occasion of what happened, it shifted to Eastern Europe, the strike group is now deployed in the Mediterranean.
More U.S. warships are in the Mediterranean than ever before, Del Toro said. “There are a lot of Russian ships and submarines in the Mediterranean today, and that’s why it’s important for NATO to have an equal presence to deter them,” he said, concluding: “The only thing Putin understands is strength.”
The mission is going on as far as not only Russia, but also US NATO allies, which, despite the lack of rights to civil activity on behalf of Ukraine, is a completely different matter when it comes to countries that are members of NATO. After the stay of Donald Trump, when NATO faced an existential crisis, Truman’s presence in the Mediterranean with Australia’s mission is also President Joe Biden’s European envoy to NATO allies that America is back.
For Lieutenant Adam Vavreau, one of the F-18 pilots, this mission is comparable to the hundreds he completed in his five years of training. But it also has a symbolic meaning – it is a signal to both Russians and allies that NATO exists.
“We are here to meet the determination of NATO, to show that we are ready to help them not only in words but also in deeds. That we’ll be there.” They noted that NATO “really exists, that it is more than just a collection of ideas on paper,” he added.
This return to multilateralism after years in the desert is reflected in the approach of US forces to the Ukraine conflict, which obliges US forces to control more actively than in the past 25 years. “We are working at a level with population allies that most of the people on board have never seen,” said Lt. Sean Eklund, a spokesman for the carrier group. “Usually we raced [sic] across the Mediterranean to the Middle East, and from there we returned [sic] back. It’s very unusual to hang around here.”
A small share of the carrier arrived by the French carrier FS Charles de Gaulle and Italy
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