The US has begun deploying its most advanced stealth jet fighter, the twin-engine F-22 Raptor, to a base in the United Arab Emirates, within easy striking distance of Iran, industry sources told Aviation Week.
“The F-22 is unlike any other fighter in the world and our friends and potential adversaries know it,” an aviation industry executive told Aviation Week. “When we deployed the F-22s to Guam and Japan, everybody in Asia and the Pacific paid attention.”
The F-22 Raptor can “supercruise” at one and a half times the speed of sound, according to ABC News.
Several of the planes, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, will operate out of Al Dhafra Air Base in UAE, 800 miles from Tehran, industry sources told Aviation Week.
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Air Force spokesperson Lt. Col. John Dorrian confirmed to ABC News that F-22s had been sent to a base in Southwest Asia – an area that includes the UAE.
Citing operational security, Dorrian would not say how many Raptors were in the region or what their mission was, ABC News reported. But Dorrian said the planes were "not a threat to Iran."
"This is a very normal deployment to strengthen military relationships, promote sovereign and regional security, improve combined tactical air operations and enhance interoperability of forces," Dorrian told ABC News.
According to Wired, the F-22s have joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Wing, flying standard F-15Cs, and active duty pilots from the 18th Wing in Japan, flying F-15Cs updated with the latest radars, in the region. Raptor and Eagle pilots have been developing special tactics for clearing the air of Iranian fighters, Wired reported.
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