USAF deploy F-22 Raptors plus other assets to the Middle East

Following a number of drone and missile attacks on the UAE by Yemen-based Houthi rebels in January, the US has deployed US Air Force F-22 Raptors to Al Dhafra Air Base, Abu Dhabi, to assist in defending Emirati and US interests in the Gulf country. 

This deployment, announced on February 12, is part of a multifaceted demonstration of US support towards the host country. The rapid deployment of fifth-generation fighters was ordered by the US Secretary of Defense in conjunction with Abu Dhabi Crown prince, Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the UAE.

US Air Force F-22 Raptors arrive at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 12, 2022. USAF/ Tech Sgt Chelsea FitzPatrick 

The F-22 Raptors and personnel are from the 1st Fighter Wing, located at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia and will join a range of allied combat airpower capabilities already based in the region. The F-22s last deployment to the region was June 2019-February 2020.

Ninth AF (AFCENT) commander, Lt Gen Greg Guillot said: “The unparalleled capabilities of the F-22 in a variety of missions, as well as its ability to interoperate with joint, coalition, allied and partner forces make it ideally suited to serve in the Middle East region during this critical time.

US Air Force F-22 Raptor from the 1st FW touches down at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 12 2022. USAF/ Tech Sgt Chelsea FitzPatrick 

“The Raptors’ presence will bolster already strong partner nation defences and puts destabilising forces on notice that the US and our partners are committed to enabling peace and stability in the region.”

In addition to the Raptors, the US also deployed the US Navy guided missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG-67) to partner with the UAE Navy. It is now docked in Abu Dhabi and will continue to provide early warning intelligence and collaborate on air defence.