The United States has deployed its most advanced, stealth fighters jets – F-22 Raptors in Qatar for the first time adding to a buildup of US forces in the Gulf amid tensions with Iran.
The US Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth fighters have been “deployed to Qatar for the first time to defend American forces and interests,” the US Air Forces Central Military Command said in a statement that did not specify how many of the hi-tech planes had been sent.
Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic republic.
Tensions intersified last week when Iran shot down a US drone over sensitive Gulf waters following a series of tanker attacks that Washington blamed on Tehran, which has denied involvement.
Since then the two have been locked in a war of words, which escalated this week when Trump announced new sanctions against Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Iran has threatened to abandon some of its commitments under the nuclear deal unless the remaining partners – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – help it circumvent US sanctions and especially sell its oil.
In May, the US Air Force deployed several nuclear-capable B-52 Stratofortress bombers to the Gulf in response to what the Defense Department described as a possible plan by Iran to attack American forces in the region, as well as an aircraft carrier task force.