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F-22 Raptors arrive at Al Dhafra to boost UAE defenses after recent attacks

Raptor in UAE
US Air Force F-22 Raptors arriving at Al Dhafra Air Base on February 12, 2022. Photo: US Air Force

US Air Force F-22 Raptors arrived at Al Dhafra Air Base, in the United Arab Emirates, on February 12 as part of a broader package of measures initiated following the recent series of attacks by Yemen’s Houthi.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered the rapid deployment of the fifth-generation aircraft in coordination with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the UAE and will join a range of joint, coalition and allied and partner combat airpower capabilities already based across the region.

This is the first time in two years Raptors are operating in the region after last deploying there from June 2019 to February 2020.

The move follows a series of attacks throughout January that threatened US and Emirati armed forces stationed at the host installation.

Prior to the deployment of Raptors to the region, the US announced it is sending Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole partner with the UAE Navy before making a port call in Abu Dhabi. The deployment of USS Cole to the conflict zone near Yemen is remarkable since the ship was the target of a terror attack in October 2000, which claimed the lives of 17 sailors.

The destroyer is currently docked in Abu Dhabi and will continue to provide early warning intelligence, and collaborate on air defense, the US Air Force said.

In addition to US assets, France said earlier this month it would send Rafale fighter aircraft to Camp de la Paix, a French naval air station in Abu Dhabi, from where they will be engaged alongside the UAE armed forces in surveillance, detection and interception missions if necessary.

Photo: US Air Force

“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,” said Lt. Gen. Greg Guillot, 9th AF (AFCENT) commander. “The Raptors’ presence will bolster already strong partner nation defenses and puts destabilizing forces on notice that the U.S. and our partners are committed to enabling peace and stability in the region.”

The airmen and F-22s are deployed from the 1st Fighter Wing, located at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.

“Through the vital support of the 192d Wing and the 633rd Air Base Wing, we were able to get the 27th Fighter Squadron out the door on short-notice. Our Raptors are modernized highly-capable fighters, operated by the finest Airmen, and they bring decisive airpower wherever they go,” said Col. William Creeden, 1st Fighter Wing commander.