Raptors in the Sandbox

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As tensions between Iran and the U.S. and Israel continue to mount over the former’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 nearby United Arab Emirates.

Multiple F-22s will operate out of Al Dhafra Air Base, say industry sources. This is the same base from which U-2s and Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles have been launched since shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

source: USAF

“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 occupants there to take note. says one industry official.

The timing of the deployment could be a signal from Washington to Iran to take seriously objections to the latter’s nuclear weapons ambitions.

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