Fifth generation F-22 Raptor tactical stealth fighter aircraft will be deployed to the Middle East in a show of power against Russian aircraft.
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The US Air Force aircraft, piloted by the 94th Fighter Squadron, are being placed in the US Central Command’s (CENTCOM) area of responsibility, according to a statement published by CENTCOM on 14 June.
CENTCOM’s area of responsibility stretches from Northeast Africa across the Middle East to Central and South Asia; including the countries of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan.
Each F-22 aircraft combines modern stealth, aerodynamic performance and mission systems. The aircraft is able to carry one M61A2 20mm cannon with 480 rounds, six AIM-120 AMRAAMs, and two AIM-9 Sidewinders for air-to-air combat, or two internal 1,000-pound GBU-32 joint direct attack munitions for air-to-ground missions.
US Central Command commander General Michael “Erik” Kurilla said the aircraft are being deployed from Langley Air Force Base in the wake of increasingly unsafe and unprofessional behaviour by Russian aircraft.
“Russian Forces’ unsafe and unprofessional behaviour is not what we expect from a professional air force,” he said.
“Their regular violation of agreed upon airspace deconfliction measures increases the risk of escalation or miscalculation.
“Alongside our partners and allies, we are committed to improving the security and stability in the region.”
The 94th Fighter Squadron will rapidly integrate with coalition operations on the ground and in the air, he said.