Aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) is participating in the Juniper Oak, joint drills between Israel and the United States in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
The exercise kicked off on Sunday and will include assets from across the U.S. military branches, U.S. Central Command said in a news release this week.
“This exercise will include a large-scale live fire event with over 140 aircraft including B-52s, F-35s, F-15s, F-16s, F/A-18s, AC-130, AH64s, 12 naval vessels, High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, and Multiple Launch Rocket Systems,” reads the CENTCOM release.
CENTCOM is billing the exercise as the largest bilateral exercise between the U.S. and Israel ever.
Juniper Oak 23.2, a large-scale exercise in Israel and the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Juniper Oak is the largest exercise between US and Israel in history and involves thousands of troops and assets in air, on land, at sea, in cyberspace, and in space. pic.twitter.com/DbfHdqdPdR
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) January 25, 2023
A Tuesday Defense Department image showed the George H. W. Bush carrier strike group operating in the Eastern Mediterranean for the exercise.
“Juniper Oak is a Combined Joint All-Domain exercise which improves our interoperability on land, in the air, at sea, in space, and in cyberspace with our partners, enhances our ability to respond to contingencies, and underscores our commitment to the Middle East,” CENTCOM commander Army Gen. Michael Kurilla said in the release.
Bush has been operating throughout the Mediterranean since August when it relieved the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group. For the last five months, the Bush CSG has remained in the Mediterranean amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Since December 2021, there has been a continued U.S. carrier presence in the Mediterranean. The last carrier to operate in the Middle East was the Japan-based USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) in conjunction with the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.