America Squadrons participate in Dubai Air Show

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (NNS) - Deployed Navy and Marine Corps aviation units from the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force - Crisis Response - Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) joined hundreds of civilian and military exhibitors at the International Air Show in the Dubai World Center Nov. 12-16.

As part of one of the biggest air shows in the world, the U.S. military has been an active participant since 2003. The show is a biennial event that is recognized as one of the premier aviation and air industry events in the Gulf/Middle East region with more than 1,100 exhibitors from 60 countries with 160 aircraft on display.

“I think participating in the Dubai Air Show was a great opportunity to showcase what we do and what we have been doing on deployment so far,” said Lt. Andrew Wilson, an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter pilot assigned to the “Wildcards” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23, currently embarked on the America.

Visitors to this year’s show were greeted with an impressive spectrum of U.S. aviation assets from the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy. In addition to the MH-60S, units showcased an F-22 Raptor, an E-3 Sentry from 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, the Air Combat Command F-16 Viper demonstration team, a CH-53E Super Stallion, an MV-22B Osprey from the 15th MEU’s aviation combat element and a KC-130J Hercules from SPMAGTF-CR-CC.

“It’s good to be able to demonstrate how we can come here and display our aircraft, but really you have to pause and think about the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force team coming together,” said Brig. Gen. Francis Donovan, commander, Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51, 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade. “The unique piece is these Marine and Navy aircraft come from deployed units right now. While it’s a static display here on the tarmac, the reality is we can deliver those required assets and ordnance or Marines or Sailors or Airmen on the target anywhere in this theatre.”

Currently deployed in a crisis response capacity, the Navy and Marine aviation assets were able to explain their missions to visitors of the air show.

"Both the 15th MEU and our unit are deployed to the 5th Fleet area of operation as a crisis response and contingency force. We were able to demonstrate and talk about not only our aircraft and equipment but explain to airshow visitors what the Marine Corps provides when it comes to regional stability and security, " said U.S. Marine 1st Lt. William Barkley, KC-130J Hercules pilot.

"With Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force - Crisis Response - Central Command structured for land-based operations and the MEU being able to come from sea and shore, it really demonstrates the versatility of the Marine Corps."

Many visitors to the displays expressed both fascination and appreciation for the chance to learn more about the various U.S. military aviation assets.

“I think it’s amazing that the U.S. military is here at the Dubai Air Show,” said Mimy Kim, a Dubai Air Show attendee. “When I walk around and see all these people in uniform, it’s pretty inspiring because what they do is honorable.”

The air show was a unique occasion for America’s embarked squadrons to participate in the event alongside the United Arab Emirates, fostering a stronger relationship and enhancing partnerships in the Middle East.

“I think the show gave us a great opportunity to learn about the new capabilities the aviation community has to offer, and increase our knowledge on the capabilities we have on our own equipment by learning about how others are using theirs differently,” said Wilson. “It definitely broadens our comprehension on our equipment and helps us advance strategically.”

The Department of Defense’s role in the air show is to provide a forum to display U.S. technologies, and promote standardization and interoperability with allies and partners in the region.

America serves as the flagship of the America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). The America ARG, under the tactical control of Amphibious Squadron 3, also consists of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22) and the Harpers Ferry-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52).

In addition to the 15th MEU, the America ARG is operating with the detachments from Assault Craft Unit 5, Naval Beach Group 1, Beachmaster Unit 1, Fleet Surgical Team 1 and Tactical Air Control Squadron 11. The ARG/MEU are currently deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations designed to reassure allies and partners, and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region. For more information on USS AMERICA, visit: For more information on CPR3, visit: For more information on 15th MEU, visit:

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