U.S. Aircraft Carrier Joins B-52 Stratofortress for Middle East Strike Exercise

The Associated Press
Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur, U.S. Navy via AP

A B-52 Stratofortress bomber and an aircraft carrier currently transiting the Arabian Sea conducted a joint exercise Sunday, the U.S. military confirmed.

The U.S. Air Force released a statement today confirming the exercise saw F/A-18 Super Hornets, MH-60 Seahawk helicopters and E-2D Growlers from the USS Abraham Lincoln work with the B-52 bomber.

The Air Force says the aircraft also “simulated strike operations” in the exercise, which took place on Saturday.

The White House dispatched the Lincoln and its strike force to the Middle East in May over a threat it did not describe at the time.

The USS Abraham Lincoln is a Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Commissioned in 1989, it has berthing to carry over 6,000 officers and enlisted sailors. At 332 meters (1,092 feet), it is nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall.

The carrier has a 4.5-acre flight deck that carries F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets, MH-60 Seahawk helicopters and other aircraft.

The U.S. pulled out of Iran’s nuclear deal a year ago. Since then, relations have grown tense as America imposes ever-tougher sanctions on Tehran.

The joint sea-and-air exercise came as the Trump administration confirmed it is ready and willing to talk to Iran “with no preconditions.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday the U.S. will continue its campaign of pressure against the Islamic Republic in lieu of any talks and maintains the right to a military presence in the troubled area.

Under President Trump, the U.S. has launched a maximum-pressure campaign against Iran, reimposing sanctions suspended under the controversial Iran nuclear deal in 2015 and intensifying other restrictions. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear pact.

The last armed naval confrontation between Iran and the U.S. was in 1988.

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