F-22 Raptor stealth fighters were deployed to Qatar for the first time to the Middle East for increased presence amid ongoing tensions with Iran.
The fifth-generation jet fighters have arrived in Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar for the first time to “defend American forces and interests in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.” said the U.S. Air Force.
The Air Force did not give the total number of F-22s deployed, but a handout picture showed at least five the warplanes over the base.
In the past weeks, the US military increased its presence in the region, following renewed tensions with Iran. It reached a new height when on June 20, 2019, an RQ-4 Global Hawk operated by the U.S. Navy was shot down over the Strait of Hormuz by an Iranian missile.
Both parties are still disputing the location of the drone at the moment of the incident.
A year ago, the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program that also involved Germany, China, France, United Kingdom, and Russia. Since then, tensions have escalated between the United States and Iran.
An open conflict could weigh a heavy cost on the global economy. As the United States decided to reestablish economic sanctions on Iran, both Boeing and Airbus had to suspend multi-billion ongoing contracts with several Iranian airlines. Moreover, a fifth of the world’s oil passes each day through the Strait of Hormuz, whose safety is now compromised.