USS Eisenhower Pilots Conduct Unprecedented Combat Strikes on Houthi Targets in Red Sea

ABOARD THE USS EISENHOWER, RED SEA – The mission of U.S. fighter pilots aboard the USS Eisenhower has taken on a new and unexpected challenge in the Red Sea. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Travis Keating, an F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot, expressed the difficulty of adapting their training to the task of locating and destroying hidden weapons depots in Houthi-controlled Yemen.

On a joint U.S.-U.K. mission, more than two dozen F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters and support aircraft participated in targeting Iranian-supplied ballistic missiles and drones used by Houthi forces to attack cargo ships in the Red Sea. U.S. destroyers also fired Tomahawk missiles at Houthi targets on shore.

Navy Capt. Marvin Scott, commander of Carrier Air Wing Three, emphasized the constant planning and adaptability required to carry out airstrikes in Yemen. The pilots lack the ground support they had in previous missions, making their task more challenging.

The airstrikes, however, have not deterred the Houthi militants, and their defiance raises uncertainty about the effectiveness of the increased airstrikes in quelling their attacks on commercial cargo vessels. The strategic importance of the Red Sea as a crucial waterway for global shipping adds to the urgency of the situation.

In addition to their primary mission, the U.S. pilots also have the responsibility of defending the Navy fleet in the Red Sea from incoming Houthi anti-ship missiles or drones, coming to the aid of threatened commercial vessels, and reassuring civilian navigation in the area.

Every mission, ranging from one to six hours, involves extensive planning and preparation. The success of the recent combat experience also highlights the dedication and skill of the pilots and air crews, despite the challenges they face in the Red Sea.

Despite not facing fear, the experience of combat flights leaves a lasting impression on the pilots. Their focus is on the immediate task at hand and on debriefing and refining their tactics for future missions.

The pilots’ ability to adapt and their commitment to continuous improvement demonstrate their resilience and professionalism in fulfilling their mission in the Red Sea.