French and Italian military helicopters conducted deck landing qualifications aboard U.S. Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) during joint flight operations on June 24.
The helicopters that landed on USS Bataan included French Navy Alouette III light helicopter, French Army Gazelle light helicopter and Italian Navy SH-101A (AgustaWestland AW101) medium-lift helicopter.
The landings were part of the maritime training exercise conducted by the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) with naval ships and aircraft from Italy and France.
The exercise included precision maneuvering operations off the coast of Sicily involving the ARG flagship, USS Bataan (LHD 5), and the Italian amphibious transport dock ship ITS San Giorgio, as well as the French amphibious assault ship FS Mistral and the French frigate FS Guepratte.
In addition to the landings of the Italian and French helicopters on the flight deck of Bataan, aircraft embarked aboard Bataan, including MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 365 (Reinforced) and MH-60S Seahawk helicopters from the Navy’s Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, conducted dynamic landings on the flight deck of the Mistral.
The Bataan ARG also includes the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), which is operating in the Mediterranean Sea, and the Harpers Ferry-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), which is operating in the Black Sea alongside the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78).
Bataan ARG and 26th MEU consist of more than 4,000 total Sailors and Marines, who are operating in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe after more than five months deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, which includes the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf.