The Carrier Group John C. Stennis Strike Group deployed on January 17th, and when it did a new era of Carrier Air wing Operations also started.
In the past Carrier Air wings had 12 helicopters, and a squadron that was a typically small command element. The U.S. Navy is testing a new air wing concept, one that features two MH-60 Seahawk helicopters.
New configurations being tested with the Stennis Air Group include 19 helicopters and the rotary wing air wing officers and leadership aboard, vs. being left on shore in the past. This includes helicopters that are heavily armed and will participate in special operations, SEAL team support, Anti Surface warfare and anti submarine warfare.
This is a fairly big shift in Naval Aviation and it is one toward more usage of rotary wing helicopters rather than just reliance on Jet Fighters and other aircraft.
?Helicopters don?t go Mach 3 like the Super Hornets do, but they are multi mission capable and they bring their own weaponry and unique capabilities,? said Captain Thomas Criger, a Naval Forces Air staff Officer that helped plan the new Transition.
There are a lot of different missions that a Carrier Group deals with, and the helicopters are merely being utilized in a little different manner than in the past.