By Capt. Kelton Cochran
U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) participated in training with the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), off the coast of Scotland on May 10, 2021.
The division of Harriers acted as adversary strike aircraft in order to facilitate sustainment training for the Queen Elizabeth’s detection and defense capabilities. The engagement is part of Exercise Strike Warrior, Queen Elizabeth’s certification exercise.
The AV-8Bs, which launched from the USS Iwo Jima, are attached to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 162 Reinforced, the aviation combat element of 24th MEU. Harriers provide the MEU with strike capabilities through deep- and close- air support.
The Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (IWOARG) and 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit have roughly 4,300 Sailors and Marines. The ARG-MEU is deployed to Sixth Fleet in support of regional NATO Allies and partners as well as U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.
U.S. Forces are also integrated as part of the Queen Elizabeth Strike Group. Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) and U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs will deploy with the Strike Group on her inaugural deployment.
The IWOARG consists of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), and the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17). Embarked detachments for the IWOARG include Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) Four, Fleet Surgical Team (FST) Six, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 26, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 21, Naval Beach Group (NBG) Two, Beach Master Unit (BMU) Two, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) Two and Four, and Sailors from Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) Two.
The 24th MEU mission is to provide the United States with a forward-deployed, amphibious force-in-readiness capable of executing missions across the full spectrum of combat and military operations other than war and consists of four basic elements – a command element, a ground combat element, Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1/8, a logistics combat element, Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 24, and an aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 162 Reinforced.