The United States military has deployed several F-22 fighter jets to an allied base less than 200 miles (320 km) from Iran, Fox News reported Friday.
According to the report, the US Air Force strongly denied ordering the deployment in a show of force against Iran, or that it is in some way related to a potential strike on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities. It claimed the measure is part of routine activity and “security cooperation with regional partners.”
“The United States Air Force has deployed F-22s to Southwest Asia,” Lt.Col. John Dorrian, Air Force public affairs, said in a written statement. “Such deployments strengthen military-to-military relationships, promote sovereign and regional security, improve combined tactical air operations, and enhance interoperability of forces, equipment and procedures.”
The Air Force refused to disclose how many jets were sent or exactly where they are stationed, but US officials have told Fox News the jets are in hangars at the United Arab Emirates’ Al Dafra Air Base.
The F-22 – the US’ most advanced fighter jet – has yet to see combat. They are stealth, and they specialize in air-to-air combat, but can also strike air-to-ground if needed.
“This is America’s premier fighter jet. It has no rival,” Fox News quoted one Air Force official as saying.
The next round for nuclear talks between the world powers and Iran are set to take place on May 23 in Baghdad.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi expressed hope on Tuesday that the upcoming negotiations with the United States, France, Russia, China, Germany and Britain will mark “the beginning of the end of the nuclear issue.”