NORTH SEA --
U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) conducted a long-range strike from the North Atlantic into Lithuania’s Cudgel Range, May 13, 2021.
The three U.S. Marine Corps Harriers launched from the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7). The Harriers flew a non-stop round trip mission to Lithuania, approximately 2,000 nautical miles, supported by U.S. Air Force KC-135 aerial refueling capabilities.
As the division of Harriers entered Lithuanian airspace, Lithuanian Joint Tactical Air Controllers supported the mission by providing routing and terminal control to the U.S. Marine Corps jets, ensuring a successful mission.
The Harriers dropped inert MK-82 ordnance on the Cudgel Range, demonstrating long-range strike capabilities to provide collective defense in support of Allies and partners.
“Conducting a joint long-range mission supported by Allies and partners demonstrates the strength and versatility of the NATO Alliance,” said Col. Eric D. Cloutier, commanding officer, 24th MEU. “Our ability to project power and execute missions in a dynamic security and maritime environment is a true testament to the power of teamwork.”
The AV-8Bs are attached to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 162 Reinforced, the aviation combat element of 24th MEU. Harriers are capable of conducting deep and close air support to provide the MEU an overall offensive air support capability.
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.
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.