The US has deployed F-22 Raptor fighters to the Middle East due to an increase in “unsafe and unprofessional behavior” by Russian aircraft. This includes regular violations of agreed-upon airspace deconfliction measures, which increases the risk of escalation or miscalculation, US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced.
The F-22s were deployed from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia to join the existing American and allied air and ground forces in the region.
“This rapid deployment and integration into coalition operations is a clear demonstration of the commitment shared by partners, allies, and the U.S. to long-term peace and stability in the region.” according to a statement from CENTCOM.
US military officials have reported increasingly reckless Russian activity in the Mideast region for several months. This includes instances of armed Russian jets flying over a US military outpost in Syria nearly every day during March 2023, violating the airspace roughly 25 times.
Furthermore, US Air Force (USAF) published declassified footage of the April 18, 2023, incident when US Air Force fighter jets stationed at air bases in the region intercepted a Russian Su-35 jet that had entered Coalition Force airspace in Syria. During this, the Russian pilot engaged in unprofessional maneuvers, coming within 2,000 feet of the US aircraft.
According to the CENTCOM statement, fighter jets have now been sent to demonstrate US’ “ability to re-posture forces and deliver overwhelming power at a moment’s notice.”
The F-22 Raptor, an advanced multi-role fighter developed by Lockheed Martin with help from Boeing, has been selected for its unmatched air dominance. Equipped with a powerful sensor suite and integrated avionics, the jet offers pilots unparalleled situational awareness and first-strike opportunities against threats.
The USAF has 177 Raptors as of 2023, with about 120 actively used for primary missions, since the F-22 had its production halted in 2011.
The deployment of this formidable fighter jet comes as relations between the US and Russia remain tense, against the backdrop of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.