Zee News – April 28, 2012
The United States’ most sophisticated stealth jet fighters have been deployed on an allied base less than 200 miles from Iran, according to a report.
According to a report by Aviation Week, multiple stealth F-22 Raptors, are in hangars at the United Arab Emirates’ Al Dafra Air Base, which is close to Iran’s southern border.
The US Air Force, however, adamantly denied the jets’ presence is a threat to Iran and stressed that the F-22s were simply taking part in a scheduled deployment.
“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,” ABC News quoted Air Force spokesperson Lt Col John Dorrian, as saying.
Dorrian declined to reveal the Raptors’ mission in the region or how many planes had been deployed, but said that because of the F-22’s next-generation capabilities, any number of planes deployed to the region is ‘significant.’
According to the report, the new deployment comes in the midst of the Air Forces’ continuing battle with a rare, but sustained oxygen problem plaguing the F-22.
Since 2008, nearly two dozen pilots have reported experiencing ‘hypoxia-like symptoms’ in mid-air.
Though the F-22 has been officially combat operational since December 2005, no planes from the Air Force fleet, which are made by defence contracting giant Lockheed Martin and cost an estimated USD 79 billion, have seen combat.