tanker, [because its radar, with Link
16 has] the ability to look down at a
display from a God’s-eye perspective
to see where the carrier is and see
the entire recovery ongoing as
planes are coming down.
An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Kestrels of Strike Fighter Squadron 137,
one of Carrier Air Wing Two’s nine squadrons, launches from the Nimitz-class aircraft
carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea July 2. The Lincoln Carrier Strike
Group’s deployment, which was extended from May 2 to Aug. 8, took it to the
Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans, the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf.
tactically [and] has tremendous application throughout the battle space. I can take any aviator from any air
wing, integrate them into CVW- 2, and they could start
flying combat operations tomorrow with us.
How do you conduct mission planning?
SILKEY: We’re very mature in our planning processes. We
say, “OK, I want to take out this specific target” and we
deep dive what is required to take out that specific target.
We start there and then we work back; that will drive the
resourcing required to get the aircraft required and the
ordnance on the aircraft with reliability rates and whatnot
to accomplish that mission. We continually step back further until we’ve answered all possible contingencies and
that will eventually dictate what the resourcing requirement is. Along the way, we continue to build contingency
operations and we have “go/no go” criteria that will tell
us, “You have the assets available and the capability to
continue the mission or you don’t [and] withdraw.”
What is your impression of
the MH-60R and MH-60S helicopters?
SILKEY: They are a huge force multiplier for the entire strike group.
There’s a significant growth opportunity in not only capability, but mission and training for both the Romeo
and the Sierra. [In the past,] the helicopter squadron was crucial to have
but you didn’t integrate well with
them because the missions weren’t
well aligned. Now, I call our helicopters the “low, slow fighters” because
they are absolutely engaged in the
fight, specifically, in restricted water
space and, even more specifically, the
Strait of Hormuz.
What they brought to Carrier Strike Group 9 was phenomenal. I think we moved the ball significantly in tactics, techniques and procedures for the use of heliborne
forces, from the full-motion video capability to the integration with the Romeo in the hunter role with the Sierra
in the killer role. They were integral on surface combatants in counterpiracy and they performed significant missions in the struggle against violent extremism, intercepting platforms that were smuggling weapons to various
locations throughout Fifth Fleet AOR [area of responsibility]. They’re crucial to [developing] the maritime picture for the [destroyer squadron] commander and I think
they’re going to be crucial in the strike coordination and
As a strike fighter pilot, do you fly every type
of aircraft in the air wing?
SILKEY: That is the best part about this job. I get to fly
everything in the air wing, [including] a significant
amount of helicopter time. The Super Hornet is a
tremendous strike fighter, very capable, [with] plenty of
growth opportunity for it to be sustainable for the years
to come. From a payload perspective, the Super Hornet
is a very viable platform. It also is phenomenal as a
What types of weapons did your wing employ
during the deployment?
SILKEY: LMAVs (Laser Mavericks); GBU- 12 laser-guided bomb; GBU- 38 Joint Direct Attack Munition
(JDAM); GBU- 54, a JDAM with laser capability in the
end game. It’s great against a stationary target that may
potentially move and it will update its coordinates.
20mm [cannon]. Every air wing looks at those
weapons a little bit differently and configures their aircraft a little bit differently. We tended to put all the
GBU-54s on the legacy Hornets and GBU-12s and
GBU-38s on the “Rhinos” [Super Hornets]. We retain
the Laser Mavericks for possible follow-on usage
should the need arise on the waterspace.