In response to rising tensions with Iran, twelve U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors recently arrived at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar.
The deployment of the Raptors is part of a force buildup request by U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) to defend American interests in the Persian Gulf region as a series of escalating incidents involving Iran have occurred. It is the first deployment of Raptors to Qatar. F-22s were deployed to the United Arab Emirates last year, where they participated in air strikes against the Islamic State in Syria.
The F-22 is a stealth fighter that carries both air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons systems and can be used in a variety of ways.
The Pentagon deployed B-52 Stratofortress bombers to the Middle East in early May, followed by the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf in response to unspecified Iranian threats to U.S. forces in the region. Additional Patriot air-defense missile systems were also deployed to the region, at the request of CENTCOM commander General Frank McKenzie.
In recent weeks, the Iranians downed a U.S. Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk drone flying over the Strait of Hormuz. U.S. defense officials have maintained that the drone was flying in international airspace, while the Iranian government has alleged that the drone was in Iranian airspace. The Pentagon has also said that Iran is responsible for the attack on a pair of oil tankers sailing in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has denied any involvement in the incident.