Mabus: Naval Aircraft Flying One Quarter of ISIS Mission

The Navy and Marine Corps have provided about one-fourth of the airstrikes against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria since the new campaign started last week, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Sept. 30. Most of the Navy strike missions, flown primarily off the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush operating in the Persian Gulf, were at the beginning of the campaign, “because we were there and could begin instantly when the President gave the order,” Mabus told reporters during a breakfast meeting in Washington, D.C. Now the Air Force is flying more, but Navy aircraft are flying some ISR missions, he added. Some Marine AV-8Bs have flown strike missions into Iraq from the amphibious assault ship the USS Bataan, which also is in the Persian Gulf. Navy warships in the Red Sea and the Gulf also fired 47 Tomahawk cruise missiles in the opening attacks on ISIS in Syria. The additional cost to the Navy so far has been about $100 million, primarily for the weapons expended, Mabus said. The Navy can sustain its current operations against ISIS “for as long as it is needed,” he said. The USS Carl Vinson is on its way to replace the Bush, Mabus noted.