US deploys F-22 stealth fighters to Gulf

Nearly a dozen Air Force F-22 stealth fighters have deployed to the Arabian Gulf, part of a force buildup requested by US Central Command in May in response to what it called heightened Iranian threats against American forces in the region.

The Air Force arm of US Central Command on Friday said the F-22 Raptors arrived this week at Qatar’s al-Udeid air base to “defend American forces and interests.”

It posted to its website photos of several F-22s arriving there on Thursday and said this is the first time F-22s have deployed to al-Udeid.

Four B-52 strategic bombers were deployed to al-Udeid days after a May 5 White House announcement that the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group also was being rushed to the region in response to “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” and as a “message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”

At the request of Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of Central Command, additional Patriot air-and-missile defense systems also were sent to the Gulf region in recent weeks.

He also is receiving additional surveillance and intelligence-gathering aircraft to improve the military’s ability to monitor potential Iranian threats against shipping in the Gulf area.