Images of the deployment of the Spanish Naval Amphibious Group 'Dédalo 23'

Spanish and Italian Harrier II fighters fly with the most famous squadron of the US Navy

With the introduction of the F-35B, the Harrier II's time is slowly running out, but it still continues to star in some unforgettable images.

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Currently, only three armed forces already use the Harrier II: the Spanish Navy, the Italian Navy and the United States Marine Corps. In the case of the USMC, there are only Harriers in three of the nine squadrons that operated with those fighters, due to the arrival of the F-35B. So,it is not easy to see Harrier II from different countries together, but in the last few days it has been possible, thanks to deployment of the Naval Amphibious Group "Dédalo 23" of the Spanish Navy in the Mediterranean, as part of a qualification and certification process for its subsequent incorporation into the NATO Readines Initiative (NRI) in 2024.

The 9th Squadron of the Spanish Navy Aircraft Flotilla, equipped with EAV-8B+ Harrier II Plus vessels, has accompanied the "Juan Carlos I" L-61 aircraft carrier in this deployment. As a result of this, in recent days the US Navy, the Italian Navy and the Spanish Defense Staff have published photos showing Spanish Harrier IIs with fighters from other countries in Romania, Greece and the Adriatic Sea. You can see them below.

A wedge formation of five fighters from Spain, the US and Italy. The formation is headed by an F/A-18F Super Hornet from the most famous squadron of the US Navy, the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 103 "Jolly Rogers", known for the skull and crossbones emblem that has decorated the drifts of its fighters for decades. It is currently embarked on the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush. On the starboard side of the Super Hornet we see two Spanish Harrier IIs and on the port side two Italian Harrier IIs, part of the Gruppo Aerei Imbarcati (GRUPAER) of the Marina Militare (photo: EMAD).

Another formation photo, published by the US Navy. In this frame we see only one of the Spanish Harrier IIs, the VA.1-6 / 01-806. The Super Hornet is the AG 201 / 166621. The Italian fighters are the 1-04 (with the drift decorated with a wolf, since the GRUPAER nickname is "Wolves") and the 1-19. The photo was taken over Romania on February 20.

Yet another image of the formation, this time with the two Spanish Harrier IIs in the frame. Unfortunately, I cannot identify the plane that was missing from the previous photo, I have lightened this image but the numerals are blurred.

This photo was published yesterday by the Italian Navy. In it we see two Spanish Harrier IIs and two other Italians during an in-flight refueling maneuver with an Airbus A330-200 MRTT of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, the T-057. In the image we see the Italian Harrier II refueling, while the Spanish planes wait on the port side of the tanker.

Another in-flight refueling, this time of a Spanish Harrier II with an Airbus A330 MRTT (or Airbus KC2 Voyager, as the British call it; it's the ZZ333) of the Royal Air Force (RAF). On the port side of the British aircraft we see the F/A-18F Super Hornet 201 that we saw above, and in the background is another Spanish Harrier II. The photo was taken over Romania on February 20 and has been published by the US Navy.

Another photo of the previous scene. In this image we can see more clearly the Spanish Harrier II that is refueling with the port hose of the British plane.

This deployment of the Spanish Armada has left us with even more multinational photos. This image was taken on February 21 over Greece. The formation is led by a Jolly Rogers Super Hornet, followed on port side by a Greek Mirage 2000 5EG and on starboard by one of the Dassault Rafale F3R fighters. > recently acquired by Greece. Near the Mirage we see an Italian Harrier II, and further back, to the right, a Spanish Harrier II appears. The photo was published by the US Navy.

Another image of the same formation , also published by the US Navy. This photo gives us more details about the planes. The Super Hornet is AG 211 of the aforementioned VF-103 Jolly Rogers squadron. The Greek Mirage 2000 5EG is the 547, a veteran of the TLP from Albacete. The Greek Rafale F3R is the 452. The Italian Harrier II is the 1-19, and unfortunately the low visibility scheme of the Spanish Harrier II does not allow me to identify which plane it is...

During this deployment, the Spanish aircraft carrier "Juan Carlos I" received a visit from US Navy personnel . Here we see Captain Thomas Bodine, commander of the 7th Carrier Air Wing of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush together with personnel from the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10, following the movements on the flight deck of the Spanish ship from the top of its island. On the runway we see three Harrier IIs, one of them about to take off.

US Navy personnel following the takeoff of a Spanish Harrier II from the island of the aircraft carrier "Juan Carlos I". Like the previous photo, this image was published by the US Navy and was taken on February 23 in the waters of the Adriatic Sea.

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