The USS Harry Truman, a 104,000-ton Nimitz-class aircraft carrier capable of deploying some 90 combat and support aircraft, has entered the North Sea in preparation for Trident Juncture, a series of drills which are expected to become the largest alliance exercises in the region since the Cold War.
NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe Curtis Scaparrotti has characterized the deployment of the USS Harry Truman in the North Atlantic “a demonstration of our capabilities” to Moscow.
“We are ready and we are trained and we will protect the Atlantic,” Scaparrotti said, speaking to Sky News.
Pointing to Russia’s efforts to modernize its military, the general noted that the alliance needs “to continue to increase” its “capabilities and to train so that we remain dominant in war-fighting capabilities. Strength is how we deter conflict, and our job is actually to prevent [it] and we will do that with a strong alliance,” he said.
Accusing Russia of conducting “illegal activities” and engaging in “malign influence below the level of war,” Scaparrotti said he was “glad” that the US was “calling it out because we need to put them on notice.”
Escorted by nine other warships, the massive US carrier will deploy some 49 jets in the upcoming Trident Juncture drills, which are expected to run between October 25 and November 7 in and around Norway. The drills, NATO’s largest in the region since the Cold War, will involve some 50,000 troops from NATO countries, as well as Finland and Sweden.
The USS Harry Truman’s deployment for the drills will be the first time a US aircraft carrier has been deployed to the Norwegian Sea since 1987.
Last week, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Moscow has no reason to consider the drills provocative. Earlier, Norwegian opposition politicians indicated their concerns regarding the carrier’s deployment, calling the decision “unwise in relation to Russia,” and warning that it may affect Oslo’s traditionally good relations with Moscow.
Commissioned in 1998, the USS Harry Truman has been deployed in multiple US military operations around the world, including Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, i.e. the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Over the last several years, Russia has committed substantial resources to modernizing its navy, coastal defenses and air defenses, as well as arming navy cruisers, missile boats and other vessels with cruise missiles such as the Kalibr, capable of striking targets at ranges up to 2,500 km away from the Baltic and Black seas and the Pacific Ocean.