Friday, April 27, 2012

UAE-based F-22s A Signal To Iran: Final Preparations Underway?

As tensions between Tehran, Washington and Tel Aviv continue to mount over Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons technologies, the U.S. has quietly begun a deployment of its premier stealthy fighter, the twin-engine F-22, to the United Arab Emirates.

Multiple Lockheed Martin aircraft will operate out of Al Dhafra Air Base there, industry sources say. This is the same base from which U.S. U-2s and Global Hawk UAVs have been launched since shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“The United States Air Force has deployed F-22s to Southwest Asia,” according to a statement from service spokesman Capt. Phil Ventura. “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.” Ventura declined to specify what the aircraft’s mission is for this deployment.

Because of the F-22’s supercruise — or high, efficient rate of speed — stealth, thrust-vectoring and inherent intelligence-collection capabilities, it is considered the most sophisticated fighter in the world. Deploying it to any region causes residents there to take note, says one industry executive. The timing of the Persian Gulf deployment could be a signal from the U.S. to Iran to take seriously objections to the latter’s nuclear weapons ambitions. more