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IKE Strike Group operates with Morocco in "Lightning Shake" exercise

According to information published by US Navy on March 3, 2021, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (IKE CSG) is participating in Lightning Handshake, a bi-lateral maritime exercise between the U.S. and the Royal Moroccan Navy (RMN) and Royal Moroccan Air Force (RMAF) during the first week of March.


According to information published by US Navy on March 3, 2021, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (IKE CSG) is participating in Lightning Handshake, a bi-lateral maritime exercise between the U.S. and the Royal Moroccan Navy (RMN) and Royal Moroccan Air Force (RMAF) during the first week of March.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Royal Moroccan Navy Frigate Tarik Ben Ziyad SIGMA Class Frigate (Picture source: Deagel)


The exercise enhances interoperability between the U.S. and Moroccan Navies across multiple warfare areas, many of which include: surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, air and strike warfare, combined logistics support, maritime interdiction operations.

Lightning Handshake 2021 increases the ability of U.S. and Moroccan maritime forces to work together in order to address security concerns and increase stability in the region.

Participating ships in Lightning Handshake from the IKE CSG, commanded by Rear Adm. Scott Robertson, include flagship USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69); and Destroyer Squadron 22 ships include Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Mitscher (DDG 57), and USS Porter (DDG 78).

Aircraft participating in Lightning Handshake include - Squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3, embarked on Eisenhower include the "Fighting Swordsmen" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32, "Gunslingers" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 105, "Wildcats" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131, "Rampagers" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 83; "Dusty Dogs" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 7; "Swamp Foxes" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74; "Screwtops" of Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 123; "Zappers" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 130, and a detachment from Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40 "Rawhides.”

Moroccan assets participating in Lightning Handshake include: Royal Moroccan Navy Frigate Tarik Ben Ziyad (SIGMA Class Frigate) Royal Naval HQ Maritime Operations Center (MOC) Royal Air Force HQ Air Operations Center (AOC), one Panther Helicopter, and two of each fixed-wing combat F-16 and F-5 fighter aircraft.

USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) participated in the 2018 exercise and included unit events which flexed interoperability between the U.S. and Royal Moroccan Navies in the following warfare areas; communication, link, Anti-Submarine Warfare, close air support and Naval Surface Fire Support.

Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group is a multiplatform team of ships, aircraft and more than 5,000 Sailors, capable of carrying out a wide variety of missions around the globe.

SIGMA Class frigates of the Royal Moroccan Navy were designed based on the ship integrated geometrical modularity approach (SIGMA) concept. These frigates are improved versions of the SIGMA-corvettes of the Indonesian Navy.

SIGMA-Class frigates have an overall length of 97.9m, beam of 13.02m and a draft of 3.75m. The first frigate is longer than its sister ships as it features VIP crew and command facilities.

The displacement of the first frigate is 2,335t. The second and third ships have a displacement of 2,075t. The ship can complement a standard crew of 91.

The SIGMA-Class frigate is armed with Exocet surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs) and VL MICA short-range surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). The VL MICA missiles can intercept multiple airborne targets located within one kilometre to a 20km range.